Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Dissertation Research: The influence of plant-plant interactions on pollination and plant reproduction near poleward range margins (Award# 1601526)

PI: Irwin, Rebecca E (
Phone: (603) 646.3688 
Institute/Department: Dartmouth College, Department of Biological Sciences 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\BIO\DEB
Program Manager: Dr. George Malanson (
Discipline(s): | Biology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
Climate change may alleviate stressful environmental conditions, such as cold temperatures and a shorter growing season, that directly hinder flowering plants in northern regions. In addition, climate change may alter interactions between plants and other organisms. Will competition with neighbors affect whether plants respond to increasing temperatures? Observations and experiments on shrubs and pollinators at different distances from a glacier will answer this question. The scientific workforce will be strengthened through support for the education and training of a doctoral student and participation of undergraduates. Science communication will be enhanced through citizen scientist participation and outreach to middle-school and high-school students. The stress-gradient hypothesis, which posits that plant-plant interactions transition from being competitive to facilitative with increasing stress, will be extended to include pollinator networks. The low-shrub tundra of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, which is near the poleward range edge of many plants, including our focal species, Vaccinium uliginosum (Ericaceae) encompasses a gradient of 3 degrees C, which mirrors the expected temperature increase in West Greenland over the next 70 years. Using a vegetation removal experiment, how co-occurring plants affect the reproduction of Vaccinium will be determined. Plant traits associated with pollinator attraction and pollinator visitation will be observed, and pollen supplementation treatments will assess pollen limitation. Fruit set and seed production will be measured to assess pollinator-mediated mechanisms in the stress gradient hypothesis. The outcome will improve understanding of the processes of increasing shrub cover in Arctic tundra.

Logistics Summary:
This dissertation research will explore how climate-driven changes in plant-plant interactions may influence plant reproduction near the poleward range This grant supports dissertation research. The co-PI (a PhD student) will explore how climate-driven changes in plant to plant interactions may influence plant reproduction near the northern edge of their range by altering local physical and chemical conditions and pollination mutualisms (i.e., pollination interactions that benefit both species.). The grant supports one year of field work in Greenland in 2016. A research team of two will visit Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to conduct studies in the low-shrub tundra of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, which is near the poleward range edge of many plants, including a focal species, Vaccinium uliginosum (Ericaceae). The Co-PI will arrive in late May by commercial air and base from the KISS. Initially, she will set up experiments around Kangerlussuaq proper and make a day trip to collect plant and other samples in the study area, which encompasses a high-stress zone adjacent to the Greenland Ice Sheet, and a low-stress zone 40 km from the ice sheet. In June, the second researcher will arrive in Kangerlussuaq via ANG, and the pair will transition to spending most of its time tent-camping in the study area. They will overnight in Kangerlussuaq for resupply and laboratory work in the KISS, where they also will lodge. The researchers will depart Greenland in August via commercial air. Starting in late June, PolarTREC teacher, Anne Schoeffler (1525880AS) will join this team for about three weeks in the field.

CPS will provide ANG coordination for pax/cargo between NY and Kanger; a rental truck; camping, communications, and safety equipment from inventory; and will assist in reserving lab/freezer space at KISS. All other items, including any commercial travel, KISS lodging, and food, will be arranged by the PI and paid for from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2016Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 23 / 2016 08 / 04 / 20163

Generated from:
Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "1601526", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1