Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Utah
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Utah Project

NSF Arctic LTER: Climate Change and Changing Disturbance Regimes in Arctic Landscapes: LAKES

March 2017 - February 2020


Participating Agencies

  • Arctic Natural Science

The Arctic is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. Responses to this warming involve acceleration of processes common to other ecosystems around the world (e.g., shifts in plant community composition) and changes to processes unique to the Arctic (e.g., carbon loss from permafrost thaw). The objectives of the Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project for 2017-2023 are to use the concepts of biogeochemical and community “openness” and “connectivity” to understand the responses of arctic terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems to climate change and disturbance. These objectives will be met through continued long-term monitoring of changes in undisturbed terrestrial, stream, and lake ecosystems in the vicinity of Toolik Lake, Alaska, observations of the recovery of these ecosystems from natural and imposed disturbances, maintenance of existing long-term experiments, and initiation of new experimental manipulations. Based on these data, carbon and nutrient budgets and indices of species composition will be compiled for each component of the arctic landscape to compare the biogeochemistry and community dynamics of each ecosystem in relation to their responses to climate change and disturbance and to the propagation of those responses across the landscape. The Arctic LTER is a collaborative partnership between 5 Principle Investigators (including Budy) at academic units located at different universities and a conservative estimate of 28 secondary and very interdisciplinary Co-Principle investigators (and their students and staff) housed at 28 other academic units. The proposed research will compare key ecosystems of the Arctic to determine how their degree of openness governs their responses to climate change and acute disturbance such as fire and surface slumping associated with permafrost thaw. The proposed research will also determine how the responses to climate change and disturbance are mediated by landscape connectivity and the movement of nutrients, organic carbon, and organisms across arctic