Effect of Muskox Carcasses on Nitrogen Concentration in Tundra Vegetation

Kjell Danell, Dominique Berteaux, Kari Anne Bråthen

Abstract


We observed a steep gradient of nitrogen concentration in plants growing around carcasses of four adult muskoxen that had been lying for five or more years on the tundra in the Canadian Arctic. The gradient reached an asymptote at 2 m distance from the carcasses. The carbon-to-nitrogen ratio increased significantly from 1 to 3 m and then stabilized. These results suggest that the effects of carcasses last for several years on the tundra and create nitrogen-rich plant growth in their immediate surroundings. The lush growth around the carcasses in otherwise grazed areas indicated a low level of grazing on the fertilized plants.


Keywords


nitrogen; carcass; muskox; Ovibos moschatus; vascular plants; mosses; tundra; Canada

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14430/arctic723

PID: http://hdl.handle.net/10515/sy5445hg1

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