ALTER - Abisko Long-Term Ecological Research


ALTER - Abisko Long-Term Ecological Research

Project Summary

The arctic region does not only provide us with a unique biodiversity; one of its most important services is storing in its soils about twice the amount of carbon that is currently contained in our atmosphere. With climate change, however, the Arctic changes dramatically, particularly in terms of vegetation composition. An important way in which plants affect carbon storage is by their interactions with symbiotic soil fungi – mycorrhiza –, as they have a great ability to store carbon belowground, although the way in which they do this depends on the plant species. Changes in vegetation composition therefore will also determine which types of fungi can be found in the landscape.

To study how changed soil fungal communities affect carbon storage, our international research collective, will establish a long-term field experiment in the alpine tundra close to Abisko. In this experiment we will remove fungal types from the soil by removing their symbiotic plant species. We will monitor the gradual changes in fungal community and various processes affecting soil carbon storage in the short- and long-term. This will provide a novel and holistic understanding about the role of vegetation change in carbon storage in the Arctic.

A long-term collaboration

Ecology and global change related research is in need of long-term field (>10 years) experiments in order to answer some of the relevant questions in the field. However, most funding only cover 1-3, sometimes 5 years of research and employment at the early career stage is limited to only a few years. Long-term field studies are therefore hard to fund - especially for early career scientists. Besides from our scientific questions our special collaboration pose a new solution to how young scientists can take matter into their own hands in order to become independent in a research field where long-term studies are highly needed. 


Konung Carl XVI Gustafs 50-årsfond (Sweden)

ARCUM (Sweden)

Waldemar von Frenckells stiftelse (Finland)

Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL (Switzerland)


Gesche Blume-Werry, University of Greifswald, Germany

Konstantin Gavazov, WSL, site Lausanne, WSL, Switzerland

Eveline Krab, SLU Uppsala, Sweden

Signe Lett, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Sylvain Monteux, Umeå University

Emily Pickering Pedersen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Maria Vaisänen, Oulu University, University of Lappland, Finland