Analysis of shrub- and lichen-dominated vegetation types at Imingfjell
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Climate change can have a large impact on the vegetation composition in alpine areas. Lichen heaths are particularly vulnerable, among others because these are threatened by expanding shrub species like B. nana. Imingfjell in southern Norway is an area with a high density of lichen dominated vegetation. This thesis examines the variation in composition and albedo in lichen- and shrub-dominated vegetation at Imingfjell. The study is a support to the PhD-project of Peter Aartsma, who investigates if lichen vegetation can have an impact on its direct environments. This master thesis has studied the vegetation plots from the PhD-project and compared the vegetation composition and albedo of these to plots in the surrounding area, in order to see if the plots in the PhD-project are representative for lichen- and shrub-dominated vegetation at Imingfjell. In total, this study includes 74 plots, whereof 40 in zone 1 (0-200 meters from a local road) and 34 in zone 2 (200-1500 meters from the road). All the 20 plots in the PhD-project are located within zone 1, together with 20 plots from this MSc study. The plots are always coupled; one lichen plot always has a corresponding shrub plot. The cover percentage for the vegetation layers and each species is registered. In addition, albedo is measured at all plots within zone 1, always one shrub- and one lichen-dominated plot at the same time. As expected, the results show a difference in composition between the vegetation dominated by lichen and shrub. The lichen-dominated vegetation shows no significant difference within zone 1. Further comparison of the plots in zone 1 to the plots in zone 2 shows significant difference in both composition and within specific species. Some of the difference can be explained by a higher density of exposed ridges near the road. For shrub-dominated vegetation, the same trends are found. From the albedo data, a significant difference is found between the lichen- and shrub-dominated vegetation. Within the lichen vegetation, no difference was detected, whereas the shrub-dominated vegetation showed a difference between the PhD study plots and the MSc study plots. With ongoing climate change, it is important to monitor the development of vulnerable alpine vegetation. This thesis, with its relation to the PhD-project, can be seen as a contribution to this research.