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Data from: Increased duration of aquatic resource pulse alters community and ecosystem responses in a subarctic plant community


Gratton, Claudio; Hoekman, David; Dreyer, Jamin; Jackson, Randall D. (2018), Data from: Increased duration of aquatic resource pulse alters community and ecosystem responses in a subarctic plant community, Dryad, Dataset,


Allochthonous resource movement across ecosystem boundaries creates episodic linkages between ecosystems. The sensitivity of the community to external resources of varying duration can alter the baseline upon which future pulses of allochthony can act. We explored the terrestrial ecosystem response to pulsed inputs of lake-derived resources with a manipulative experiment in a subarctic heathland where we assessed plant community and nutrient availability responses to additions of midge carcasses (Diptera: Chironomidae). Insect carcasses were added as either a one-time pulse or a 4-year press to simulate differing durations of allochthony, which is common in the area. We found that midge pulses significantly elevated soil inorganic [N] in the first year (7× over background levels) but were significantly diminished (1.5×) by the second year after the initial pulse. The press treatment continued to elevate total soil inorganic [N] to 13× over background levels by the fourth year of midge additions, but then declined to 3.6× background in year 5 when experimental midge additions had ceased. In contrast to the soil inorganic N response, plant biomass was similar in pulse-addition and control plots over the course of the experiment. However, by the second year of the study plant biomass in press-addition plots were significantly higher than controls (>50%), and continued to increase over the 4 years of the press treatment. Midge addition stimulated dominance of graminoids and thatch litter in plots that had previously been primarily heathland vegetation, a response that persisted four years post-midge addition. Our findings suggest that soil and plant community responses to persistent insect carcass deposition (e.g., press) into heathland vegetation has the potential to carry forward in a way that modifies the baseline ecosystem conditions upon which additional allochthony may act.

Usage Notes


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-0717148, DEB-LTREB-1052160, DEB-LTREB-1556208, DGE-0718123