Arctic Plant Ecology


The course will start with a week theoretical part intertwined with demonstrations during short excursions around Longyearbyen.

The present distribution of the Arctic flora and vegetation as well as genetic patterns within and among Arctic plant populations will be presented and discussed in the view of the glacial history of the Arctic. The traits and adaptations of arctic plants will be discussed in the light of the specific selection pressures caused by the physical environment and the biotic interactions in different habitats. There will also be focused on the importance of mycorrhizal plant-fungi interactions. The resilience of the Arctic flora and vegetation to climatic changes will be considered. The main focus will be on the vascular flora of Svalbard. The second and main part of the course will be devoted to practical studies of vegetation differentiation, species diversity, patterns of growth forms (including cryptogams) and reproductive strategies (mainly vascular plants) in relation to climate, grazing pressure, micro topography, bedrock and other edaphic aspects. Svalbard is particularly well suited for such studies with its sharp gradients in climatic conditions over short distances, with variety of exposed bedrock types and large contrasts among different areas in grazing pressure by reindeer and geese, created by the dramatic topography and glacier blockades. During eight days ship-cruise we will visit different bioclimatic zones in Svalbard from the most species rich places to the polar desert. The students will work on specific projects and produce scientific reports. The course is also relevant for students focusing on alpine flora.

Enrolment in a master program in biology. The student must be working on a thesis project where the course will be seen as relevant.

Course details

Academic level(s)Master
Language of instruction
InstitutionUniversity Centre in Svalbard
Begin date-
End date-
Registration deadline15.04.2015
ECTS credits10.0
Field schoolNo
Fields of studyBiology and biochemistryLife science (broad programmes)
Teaching placeSvalbard
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