Climate change is affecting the arctic more than anywhere in the world, and plant communities will no doubt be affected by this altered temperature. This study attempts to predict the type of change that will occur within the plant communities of Iceland. In this study, I use geothermal springs as a proxy for increased soil temperatures that may happen as a result of a changed climate. Using data collected from 3 study areas in the Rekjadalur area, outside of Hveragerði in southwest Iceland, I measured the whether a detectable amount of change occurs in the cold areas unaffected by geothermal heat vs areas that are impacted. Using both Bray-Curtis and Raup-Crick dissimilarity metrics, I found that a significant change occurs within the scale of an area of about 12 meters surrounding each geothermal area. Change, however, does not occur in the same way in the different areas of the study. Additionally, Shannon-Weiner diversity increases as the temperature of the soil increases. These data spell an issue for Icelandic ecosystems in the future, as it proves that Icelandic ecosystems will be significantly impacted by the changing climate.
Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agriculture | Biosecurity | Environmental Studies | Geographic Information Sciences | Place and Environment | Scandinavian Studies
LaScaleia, Michael, "Plant Community Structure in Geothermally-Warmed Soils in Iceland: A Climate Change Study" (2016). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 2447.