COAT CASE STORIES are short popular handouts from COAT covering a variety of topics related to COAT research and infrastructure development, field activities, monitoring methods or particular occurrences that we consider of broad interest. New COAT CASE STORIES will be published on this page at irregular intervals. All COAT CASE STORIES are edited by Leif Einar Støvern.
Long time series are important for understanding changes in nature. Despite extensive research on vegetation in Svalbard, long-term monitoring has been lacking. But we can now present “Year 1” of Svalbard vegetation monitoring within COAT.
COAT has in collaboration with the governor and the local community in Svalbard just initiated actions to reduce the population of the sibling vole (Microtus levis) and thereby the likelihood of infection of the parasite Echinococcus multilocularis (EM) in Longyearbyen. The sibling vole is an invasive species in Svalbard. It was accidentally introduced from Russia in the early 1900s, and established a population with a core area in Isfjorden between Bjørndalen and Coles Bay. The sibling vole is an herbivore that is most abundant in lush grassy vegetation – in Isfjorden often nearby sea bird colonies. In 1999, it was discovered that a substantial proportion of the voles in the population’s core area carried EM.
Pest insect outbreaks in the subarctic birch forest of northern Norway have been described as among the most abrupt and large-scale ecosystem disturbances attributed to recent climate change in Northern Europe. But outbreaks and forest damage inflicted by moth larvae are not a new phenomenon in the north. They have occurred at regular intervals as far back as historical records go. So, what is new and why may moth outbreaks be a cause of concern for the future of the northern birch forest?