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I gave this talk at the Science on Ice evening at the York Region Science and Technology Fair held at York University, Toronto on Friday March 29th 2017.
For my talk past slide 5, please see post at www.dawnbazelylab.yorku.ca
1. Hello everyone, I want to take you on a journey with me above the tree line, to places where forests are not the dominant kind of vegetation.
But before we learn about amazing arctic plants, I’d like to ask you to think about what other kinds of natural ecosystems you might have visited, where there weren’t any trees.
Please hold yours thoughts, and we’ll come back to them later.
2. So, here’s Andrew Tanentzap, he was a biology student at York, who also did his Master’s with me on forest ecology.
Clearly, though, Andrew isn’t in a forest. He’s up a mountain near the arctic city of Tromsø, Norway, and he is clearly above the tree line, standing on a snow pack, wearing shorts in July.
The plants in the background are very short.
This is tundra vegetation. You need to crawl around to see the flowers close up, and many of the plants have this typical cushion life form, that has evolved for a reason.
By the way, after his Master’s, Andrew went to Cambridge University in England for his PhD, and he is now a professor there. But his science career started right here at York.
3. The story of vegetation across the globe is the story of gradients.
If we could all beam over to the equator, we’d find ourselves in rainforest or jungle, in a hot, humid environment, with tall trees.
If we spent the next few weeks and months walking north or south towards the poles, we would pass through temperate forests, with shorter trees.
Eventually we’d reach the tundra, and then the icecaps.
Along the way, the species richness or biodiversity of plants and other organisms would be dropping.
As we travel along this latitudinal gradient, the climate is getting cooler and drier.
Walking up a mountain, we’d see similar vegetation zones, along what we call an altitudinal gradient.
These different zones are called biomes.
4. If we’re in a hot, wet place, we’d be in rainforest. If it’s cold and dry, we’d be on the tundra.
Recalling other places without trees – if you are in a hot, dry place, that’s a desert, and a cooler dry place, will probably be a prairie or grassland.
Has anyone visited these biomes?
5. Biomes are areas with similar plant and animal formations that are found on different continents around the world.
Different biomes are easily recognizable because of their dominant plant forms.