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National Research Council

Research Institute on Terrestrial Ecosystems

The effect of grazing on primary producers and decomposers in the Arctic tundra is the goal of the project the colleagues of IRET are doing in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard Islands. The grazing of reindeers reintroduced to the area more than 40 years ago has drastically changed the vegetation some species of both lichens and vascular plants are, indeed, almost completely disappeared, with changing in nutrient contents of the soil. How these changes can affect the carbon cycle, i.e. the pools and flows that contribute to it, and what could be the interaction with the progressive warming of the tundra is not completely clear. In the coming weeks, Olga, Angela and Emanuele, from Porano and Montelibretti, will focus on the differences in the decomposition of organic material, with different carbon and nitrogen ratios, by the bacterial and fungal communities of the soil. They will also deal with the study of CO2 emissions related to it, in portions of the tundra where the access of herbivores is prevented.

In these days, despite being trained on possible ground attacks, the IRET colleagues had to learn how to defend themselves also from air attacks, with all the weapons at their disposal