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Pre-ABoVE: Arctic Vegetation Plots, Burned and Unburned Tundra, Alaska, 2011-2012

Documentation Revision Date: 2017-12-07

Data Set Version: 1

Summary

This dataset provides environmental and vegetation data collected in late June and July of 2011 and of 2012 from study plots located in tundra fire scars and adjacent unburned tundra areas on the Seward Peninsula and the northern foothills of the Brooks Range in Arctic Alaska. The surveys focused on upland tundra settings and provide information on vegetative differences between the burned and unburned sites. The sampling design established a chronosequence of sites that varied in time since last fire to better understand post-fire vegetation successional trajectories. Complete species lists and their cover abundance data are provided for both study areas. Environmental data include the baseline plot descriptive information for vegetation, soils, and site factors. No soil samples were collected.

This dataset includes two data files in *.csv format and one companion file containing selected vegetation plot photos.

Figure 1. Vegetation transect (NS-AR-3) at the Anaktuvuk River Fire site in the foothills of the Brooks Range. Plant species and height were recorded every 1 m along 30 m transects.

Citation

Breen, A.L., and D.A. Walker. 2017. Pre-ABoVE: Arctic Vegetation Plots, Burned and Unburned Tundra, Alaska, 2011-2012. ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. https://doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1547

Table of Contents

  1. Data Set Overview
  2. Data Characteristics
  3. Application and Derivation
  4. Quality Assessment
  5. Data Acquisition, Materials, and Methods
  6. Data Access
  7. References

Data Set Overview

This dataset provides environmental and vegetation data collected in late June and July of 2011 and of 2012 from study plots located in tundra fire scars and adjacent unburned tundra areas on the Seward Peninsula and the northern foothills of the Brooks Range in Arctic Alaska. The surveys focused on upland tundra settings and provide information on vegetative differences between the burned and unburned sites. The sampling design established a chronosequence of sites that varied in time since last fire to better understand post-fire vegetation successional trajectories. Complete species lists and their cover abundance data are provided for both study areas. Environmental data include the baseline plot descriptive information for vegetation, soils, and site factors. No soil samples were collected.

The Pre-ABoVE vegetation plot datasets were curated to create the Alaska Arctic Vegetation Archive (AVA-AK; Walker et al. 2016b, Walker 2013)  The AVA-AK is a regional database that is part of the larger Arctic Vegetation Archive (Walker 2016a, Walker et al. 2013, Walker and Raynolds 2011). The database contains vegetation plots from homogeneous plant communities with tables of cover or cover-abundance scores for all species, and accompanying environmental site data.  Field data were collected using Braun-Blanquet, US National Vegetation Classification protocols, or comparable methods.

Project: Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment 

The Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) is a NASA Terrestrial Ecology Program field campaign based in Alaska and western Canada between 2016 and 2021. Climate change in the Arctic and Boreal region is unfolding faster than anywhere else on Earth. ABoVE seeks a better understanding of the vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems and society to this changing environment.

Acknowledgements:

These data were obtained from the Alaska Arctic Geoecological Atlas (http://agc.portal.gina.alaska.edu), which provides access to existing Arctic vegetation plot and map data in support of the ABoVE campaign.

Data Characteristics

Spatial Coverage: Northern foothills of the Brooks Range and the Seward Peninsula, Alaska

Domain: Core ABoVE

State/territory: Alaska

Grid cells:  Ah0Av0, Ah1Av0, Ah0Av1, Ah1Av1

Region: Northern Alaska

Spatial Resolution: Point

Temporal Coverage:  20110714 - 20120730

Temporal Resolution: annual

Study Area:  (All latitude and longitude given in decimal degrees)

Site Westernmost Longitude Easternmost Longitude Northernmost Latitude Southernmost Latitude
North Slope and Seward Peninsula, Alaska -164.686 -146.645 70.0887 65.361

 

Data File Information

There are two data files with this dataset in comma-separated (.csv) format. The files provide plot environmental data, vegetation species as well as the percent ground cover occupied by the species.

Missing numeric data are reported as -9999 and missing text is reported as not available (n/a).

 

Table 1. Data and Companion Files

Data File Name

Description

  tundra_fire_veg_plots_environmental_data.csv Environmental characterization data
  tundra_fire_veg_plots_species_data.csv

 

Species cover data in comma separated (.csv) format. Both the author's determination and the current taxonomy according to the Panarctic Species List (PASL)
Companion File  
    Tundra_Fire_Veg_Plots_Photos.pdf Collection of vegetation plot and transect photos.

 

Data Descriptions: The column names, their units, and descriptions for each of the .csv data files are listed below. 
 

Table 2. Data file tundra_fire_veg_plots_environmental_data.csv

User notes: 

  • Several of the environmental data variables are all missing values. For instance, no soil samples were collected. These and other variables are included for completeness and consistency with other vegetation plot datasets and with Turboveg.
  • Several fire-related variables are located near the end of the file.
Variable Units/format Description
RELEVE_NUMBER   Releve number
FIELD_RELEVE_NUMBER   Author's plot number or code if it differs from the reference for the species table.
LOCATION    Brief description of fire or unburned sampling area
DATE yyyymmdd Date plot was investigated
RELEVE_AREA_SQ_M M2 Area of the relevé (m2). The field is left blank to indicate the plot had no boundaries or no estimate of the sampled area. -1 for irregular shape.
RELEVE_SHAPE   Shape of the relevé area. Necessary for judgements on ‘edge effects’. square (S), rectangle (R), linear/band-forming (L), circular (O), irregular (I), more subplots combined (C), unknown (not-recorded) (N).
COVERSCALE % Cover abundance scale. Percentage (%)
REPEAT_SAMPLED   Has the relevé been sampled more than once? (Y or N). Will change over time.
COLLECTION   Method used to collect vegetation-plot data. relevé (R), other (O).
COLLECTION_METHOD   If data were not collected using the relevé method, specify collection method and source.
SYNTAXON_CODE   Syntaxon name according to the Braun-Blanquet School. [All data are missing]
SYSTEM_FOR_PLANT_COMMUNITY_NAME   Field community name (FLD_NM)
PLANT_COMMUNITY_NAME   Original plant community name used by the author. Will specify the source of the name in the previous field.
AUTHOR_CODE   Breen, A.
REFERENCE_FOR_ SPECIES_DATA   Amy Breen
TABLE_NUMBER_FOR_SPECIES_DATA   Table number(s) in which species data occur in the reference for species data. [All data are missing]
NUMBER_OF_RELEVE_IN_TABLE   Relevé number in the species table in the reference for species data. [All data are missing]
REFERENCE_FOR_ENVIRONMENTAL_DATA   Main publication or data report from which the species data were taken. Amy Breen
TABLE_NUMBER_FOR_ENVIRONMENTAL_DATA   If environmental data are from a table, indicate table number(s) from the reference for environmental data. [All data are missing]
SUBZONE BIOCLIMATIC_ SUBZONE Arctic tundra bioclimate zone. Subzone A (A), Subzone B (B), Subzone C (C), Subzone D (D), Subzone E (E), Treeless Oceanic Boreal (O), Forest-Tundra Transition (FT), Boreal (BO)
COUNTRY_CODE   US
DATASET   TFIRE_AB
REGION   Region as indicated by author. For example, could be land management unit, national park, or mountain range.
PHYSIOGRAPHIC_DIVISION   Physiographic divisions.
PHYSIOGRAPHIC_REGION_SOURCE   Source used for physiographic division.
GEOREFERENCE yes Are the relevés georeferenced? (Y or N).
GEOREFERENCE_SOURCE GPS Georeference source. GPS (GPS), Google Earth (GE), map (MAP), aerial photograph (PHOTO), None (NONE).
GEOREFERENCE_ACCURACY_M   Accuracy of georeference as recorded by GPS (m). If source differs, approximate accuracy (m).
LATITUDE Decimal degrees Latitude of the center of the plots
LONGITUDE Decimal degrees Longitude of the center of the plots
ALTITUDE_M m Elevation of relevé (m).
SLOPE_DEGREES degrees Slope of relevé (degrees).
ASPECT_DEGREES degrees Aspect of relevé (degrees). Aspect is measured counterclockwise in degrees from 0 (due north) to 360 (again due north, coming full circle). As a convention, use 360 degrees for north.
TOPOGRAPHIC_POSITION   flat elevated plain (includes plateaus and elevated river terraces) (EL_PLN); hill crest (CRST); shoulder (SHLD); backslope (BACK); footslope (includes toeslopes) (FOOT); flat low plain (LW_PLN); riparian zone (includes active floodplains, drainage channels, water tracks) (RIPZN); lake or pond (LAKE).
SURFICIAL_GEOLOGY   Parent material.
HABITAT_TYPE    Tentative Braun-Blanquet habitat as defined by classes.
SITE_MOISTURE   Site moisture.   dry (DRY), moist (MST), wet (WET), aquatic/emergent (AQU), unknown (not recorded) (N).
DISTURBANCE   natural vegetation (NAT) or anthropologically disturbed (DIS).
ORGANIC_LAYER_DEPTH_CM cm Depth of organic layer (cm). [All data are missing]
SOIL_TEXTURE_TOP_MINERAL_HORIZON   Field estimate of texture at the top of the mineral horizon. Broad categories: gravel (GRV), sand (SND), silt (SLT), clay (CLY), loam (LOM), organic (if no mineral soil within the active layer) (ORG). All -9999
SOIL_PH_at_10_cm   pH of the soil within the plots. [All data are missing]
MOSSES_IDENTIFIED y Mosses identified? (Y or N).
LIVERWORTS_IDENTIFIED y Liverworts identified? (Y or N).
LICHENS_IDENTIFIED y Lichens identified? (Y or N).
VASCULAR_PLANT_TAXONOMIC_QUALITY    Subjective assessment of floristic quality by the party that submitted the plot. highest (1), high (2), high but incomplete (3), moderate (4), moderate and incomplete (5), low (6). ? Code=2
CRYPTOGAM_TAXONOMIC_QUALITY   Subjective assessment of taxonomic quality of the cryptogam data by the party that submitted the plot. highest (1), high (2), high but incomplete (3), moderate (4), moderate and incomplete (5), low (6). ?Code=2
COVER_TREE_LAYER_PERCENT   Tree cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_SHRUB_LAYER_PERCENT   Total shrub cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_TALL_SHRUBS_PERCENT % Percent of plot covered with tall shrubs. [All data are missing]
COVER_LOW_SHRUBS_PERCENT % Percent of plot covered with low shrubs. [All data are missing]
COVER_ERECT_DWARF_SHRUBS_PERCENT % Erect dwarf-shrub cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_PROSTRATE_DWARF_SHRUBS_PERCENT   Prostrate dwarf-shrub cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_GRAMINOIDS_PERCENT % Total graminoid cover (%).
COVER_TUSSOCK_GRAMINOIDS_PERCENT % Tussock graminoid cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_FORBS_PERCENT % Forb cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_SEEDLESS_VASCULAR_PLANTS_PERCENT   Seedless vascular plant (ferns, horsetails, club mosses) cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_MOSSES_LIVERWORTS_PERCENT % Bryophyte cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_LICHEN_LAYER_PERCENT % Lichen cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_CRUST   Biological soil crust cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_ALGAE_LAYER   Algae cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_BARE_SOIL % Bare soil, or unvegetated (%).
COVER_BARE_ROCK_PERCENT   Rock cover (%). [All data are missing]
COVER_OPEN_WATER_PERCENT % Water cover (%).
COVER_LITTER_LAYER_PERCENT   Litter cover (%).
COVER_TOTAL_PERCENT % Relative cover of vegetation (%). [All data are missing]
MEAN_CANOPY_HEIGHT_CM cm Mean height of the canopy within the stand (cm). [All data are missing]
MEAN_TREE_LAYER_HEIGHT_M m Mean height of the tree layer (m). [All data are missing]
MEAN_SHRUB_LAYER_HEIGHT_CM cm Mean height of upper shrub layer including tall and low shrubs (cm). [All data are missing]
MEAN_HERB_LAYER_HEIGHT_CM cm Mean height of herb layer including graminoids, forbs and dwarf shrubs (cm). [All data are missing]
MEAN_MOSS_LAYER_HEIGHT_CM cm Mean thickness of the moss layer including live and dead moss (cm). [All data are missing]
TIME_SINCE_LAST_FIRE  years  Year since last file. Unburned plots set to 250 years.
TIMES_BURNED    Number of time a plot has burned. Zero for unburned.
SUBSTRATE_BURN_SEVERITY    Very low, low, moderate, or high
VEGETATION_BURN_SEVERITY    Very low, low, moderate, or high
EVIDENCE_OF_FIRE_ON_TUSSOCKS   Yes or no
LIVE_SHRUB_CANOPY_HEIGHT_CM cm Height of the live shrub canopy (cm).
DEAD_SHRUB_CANOPY_HEIGHT_CM cm Height of the dead shrub canopy (cm).
GRAMINOID_CANOPY_HEIGHT_CM cm Height of the graminoid canopy (cm).
NUMBER_OF_LIVE_TUSSOCKS   Number of live tussocks in plot.
NUMBER_OF_DEAD_TUSSOCKS   Number of dead tussocks in plot.
SITE_MOISTURE   Site moisture: dry (DRY), moist (MST), wet (WET), aquatic/emergent (AQU), unknown or not recorded (N).
SITE_CONTOUR   Site contour. Shape of the surrounding landscape.
COVER_DOWN_DEAD_WOOD_PERCENT % Down dead wood cover (%)
COVER_STANDING_DEAD_WOOD_PERCENT % Standing dead wood cover (%)
REMARKS   Comments, if needed.

 

Table 3. Variables in the file tundra_fire_veg_plots_species_data.csv

User notes:

  • The source of these data is personal communication from the author, although the North Slope plot data were published in a table in an online supplement to Jones et al. (2013). Species cover data are by percentage. Both the author's determination and the current taxonomy according to the Panarctic Species List (PASL) are listed. Taxa are listed in alphabetical order according to the accepted PASL name.
  • The plot numbers are the author’s field plot numbers. The field plot numbers indicate the region sampled (NS=North Slope, SP=Seward Peninsula), fire scar sampled (abbreviated), and the number of the plot within the region sampled. Also provided are the Turboveg database accession number.
Column Numbers Column Name Description
1 PASL_TAXON_SCIENTIFIC_NAME_NO_AUTHORS Current Taxonomy according to the Panarctic Species List (PASL)
2 PASL_TAXON_SCIENTIFIC_NAME_WITH_AUTHOR(S) Current Taxonomy according to the Panarctic Species List (PASL) includng authors names
3 DATASET_TAXON Dataset taxonomy
4 to 68 Column headings are vegetation plots. See Vegetation plot name to location lookup -- Table 4.

Species cover data are given as percentage.

Application and Derivation

Derived regional maps of these data will be used in regional models of fluxes of trace gases, water, and energy from tundra surfaces.

Quality Assessment

No specific quality assessment information provided. 

Data Acquisition, Materials, and Methods

Study Areas

The vegetation associated with tundra fire scars and adjacent unburned areas on the Seward Peninsula and northern foothills of the Brooks Range in Arctic Alaska was surveyed in the field during late June and July 2011 and 2012.

The surveys focused on upland tundra settings and provide information on vegetative differences between burned and unburned sites. Unburned sites were selected that were moist tussock tundra dominated by tussock cottongrass, Eriophorum vaginatum, which is the most commonly burned vegetation community in Arctic Alaska. The burned sites were selected in areas of similar elevation and topography that were inferred to be moist tussock tundra pre-fire based on the presence and abundance of live or dead E. vaginatum tussocks. The tussocks, especially in the younger fire scars, showed evidence of charring at their base.

The sampling design established a chronosequence of sites that vary in time since last fire to better understand post-fire vegetation successional trajectories. While we cannot be certain plant communities followed the same post-fire successional pathway in this space-for-time substitution, we use the chronosequence approach as an exploratory method given there are few direct repeat post-fire observations in Arctic Alaska. Assessment of vegetation succession along the century-scale chronosequence of tundra are disturbances demonstrated for the first time on the North Slope of Alaska that tundra fires can facilitate the invasion of tundra by shrubs.

map

Figure 2. Locations of vegetation plots across the North Slope - Brooks Range and the Seward Peninsula.

 

Table 4. Vegetation plot name to location lookup table.  The FIELD_RELEVE_NUMBER is composed of these 3 elements:  Region_fire-abbreviation_Plot  (e.g., NS-MEA-15 and NS-UNB-21)

Region of Alaska Fire abbreviation or UNB (unburned) Plot(s) REGION LOCATION Latitude (approx.) Longitude (approx.)
NS UNB 4-5 Arctic Foothills of the Brooks Range Unburned tundra adjacent to Anaktuvuk River Fire 69.229 -151.166
NS UNB 20-21 Arctic Foothills of the Brooks Range Unburned tundra adjacent to DCKN Fire 69.967 -159.25
NS AR 1-3 Arctic Foothills of the Brooks Range Anaktuvuk River Fire 69.277 -150.716
NS DCKN 17-19 Arctic Foothills of the Brooks Range DCKN Fire 69.978 -159.083
NS KOK 11-13 Arctic Foothills of the Brooks Range Kokolik River fire 69.536 -161.869
NS KET 8-10 Arctic Foothills of the Brooks Range Ketik River Fire 70.089 -159.572
NS MEA 14-16 Arctic Foothills of the Brooks Range Meade River Fire 70.083 -157.156
NS CHA 6-7 Arctic Foothills of the Brooks Range Chandler River Fire 69.409 -151.499
SP DEL 1-10 Seward Peninsula Delome-71 Fire 65.46 -164.67
SP MP2 11-15 Seward Peninsula Milepost 85 Fire, Kougarok Road  65.43 -164.63
SP MP3 16-20 Seward Peninsula Milepost 85 Fire, Kougarok Road 65.43 -164.63
SP FC 29-38 Seward Peninsula Fish Creek Fire 65.85 -160.4
SP FCU 39-43 Seward Peninsula Fish Creek Unknown Fire 65.855 -160.41

 

Vegetation Plots

On the Seward Peninsula, 43 plots were established in tundra fire and unburned areas. Plots were 1 x 1 m in areas of homogenous vegetation. Complete species lists and their cover abundance were recorded along with baseline plot descriptive information for vegetation, soils, and site factors.

On the North Slope, 21 plots were surveyed for vegetation and baseline plot descriptive information for vegetation, soils, and site factors. Plant species and height were recorded every 1 m along 30 m transects. All taxa that touched the sampling pin were recorded as “hits”. Species adjacent to the transect, but not encountered, were also recorded. Percent cover was calculated by dividing the number of hits for each taxa by the total number of points along each transect. The taxa that were not encountered along the transect were given a rare cover abundance so that these plots also have complete species lists.

All but two plots occur in the habitat type, “Moist to wet acidic tussock and nontussock (Eriophorum vaginatum-Carex bigelowii-Sphagnum-Hylocomium) tundra”.  The other two plots most closely resemble the “Moist nonacidic tundra (Sedge-Dryas-Tomentypnum communities)” habitat type, although there is evidence (dead tussocks) these plots were dominated by tussock tundra pre-fire.

plot

Figure 3. Vegetation plot (SP-FC-37) at Fish Creek Fire site, eastern Seward Peninsula.

Survey Results

Original data from the northern foothills of the Brooks Range were published as part of a study of vegetation and permafrost-terrain characteristics that identified two large previously unrecognized tundra fires (Jones et al. 2013). Breen (2015) summarized her results from the Seward Peninsula and presented them at the American Geophysical Union’s annual fall meeting.

This dataset was edited and processed by Dr. Amy Breen and Lisa Druckenmiller and provided by the GINA repository at  http://agc.portal.gina.alaska.edu/plot-archive/plot-datasets/34-tundra-fires

 

Data Access

These data are available through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC).

Pre-ABoVE: Arctic Vegetation Plots, Burned and Unburned Tundra, Alaska, 2011-2012

Contact for Data Center Access Information:

References

Breen, A. L., T. Hollingsworth, M. Mack, B. Jones. Succession Stages of Tundra Plant Communities Following Wildfire Disturbance in Arctic Alaska. Abstract # B31C-0567. 2015 Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union. San Francisco, California. December 2015.

Jones, B. M., A. L. Breen, B. V. Gaglioti, D. H. Mann, A. V. Rocha, G. Grosse, C. D. Arp & D. A. Walker. 2013. Identification of unrecognized tundra fire events on the North Slope of Alaska. Journal of Geophysical Research 118: doi:10.1002/jgrg.20113