Original paper

High-altitude vegetation of continental West Greenland

Sieg, Birgit; Drees, Birgit; Hasse, Thilo


The publication presents the vegetation types of the highest altitudinal vegetation belt (b) in continental West Greenland. This belt occurs at altitudes above 1200-1250 m a.s.l. and mainly comprise snowbed (Salicetea herbaceae) and scree communities (Thlaspietea) as well as fragmentarily developed fellfield vegetation (Carici-Kobresietea). The observed vegetation types are characterized and differentiated from each other as well as from related communities of the lower vegetation belt c. The borderline between these belts is mainly characterized by the disappearance of several vegetation types and plant species in belt b. Several indicators (species, vegetation types) for a distinction of these belts are identified. The study completes the information basis needed for the construction of a model of altitudinal vegetation belts in continental West Greenland and of a first broad scale vegetation map of this area. It also includes vegetation relevés from the highest elevations (up to 1320 m a.s.l.) and with the highest species richness (95 species) known from Greenlandic mountains up to now.

In the second part an altitudinal zonation hypothesis is evaluated which infers altitudinal vegetation belts from latitudinal arctic vegetation zones. Similarities and differences between vegetation belt b and the related latitudinal Bioclimate Subzone B are discussed using idealized toposequences of vegetation in Svalbard as well as additional data from the circumpolar area. It is concluded that similarities on the level of classes, alliances and even associations are numerous especially in extreme habitats. Differences can be explained by the specific conditions in mountain habitats such as a higher degree of oceanity and wind abrasion as well as by different species pools of the regarded areas.


altitudinal indicatorsarcticmountain vegetationsyntaxatoposequencesvegetation belts