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Middlebury College

Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

Iceland: Climate Change and The Arctic


The accelerating rates of glacier retreat around the world as a result of climate change make the study of primary succession in expanding forefields increasingly important. While this is a well studied topic in many parts of the world, little data exists specific to Iceland. This study investigated vegetation development along a chronosequence of eight time periods in the Breiðamerkurjökull outwash plain. Data was collected on percent vegetation cover, dominant species, the number of unique plant groups, and percent cover of five substrate types at 10 plots (0.55 x 0.55 m quadrats) per time period. Important findings include the fact that both vegetation cover and plant diversity increased with time since glaciation and mosses dominated cover in the majority of plots. A comparison to similar studies from around the world demonstrated that, while some patterns are consistent, local factors have important impacts on the rates, processes, and outcomes of processes of primary succession.


Botany | Climate | Glaciology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


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