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BoRiS - uncovering the anatomical archive of annual rings to understand abiotic and biotic drivers of shrub growth at the range border

This project runs from 1st October 2020 - 30th September 2022

Climate change is observed and predicted to profoundly affect Arctic and Alpine ecosystems. These ecosystems, at the border of woody plant growth, change at a faster rate than the global average. Growth responses of Arctic-Alpine shrubs to climate change are variable and influenced by different factors. A key to understand the plasticity of responses to climate change is a detailed analysis of growth at the intra-individual to the community level. Currently, we lack knowledge on the intra-individual, intraspecific, and interspecific variation in growth and wood anatomical traits across environmental gradients. BoRiS aims at uncovering the information archived in annual rings to gain fundamental new insight on how the responses scale from individuals to communities. Insight into past dynamics opens a valuable window to the future and provides the basis for predicting future range dynamics of Arctic-Alpine shrubs. BoRiS provides a retrospective quantification of growth and wood anatomical traits from Arctic-Alpine shrub species, assesses their variation across environmental conditions, tests their significance as climatological proxies, disentangles the abiotic and biotic factors influencing growth, and models future shrub dynamics at the landscape to regional scale. BoRiS is possible due to a unique data set of > 1000 individual shrubs sampled in Arctic and Alpine areas and an innovative integration of state-of-the art quantitative wood anatomical analyses, classical dendrochronology, a newly proposed community-based dendroecology framework, range dynamic modelling and remote sensing observations. It is the first project to combine growth and wood anatomical responses of a large number of Arctic-Alpine shrubs and to upscale the results from individuals to communities. BoRiS is envisioned to be the first step in the development of an independent research field linking plant growth dynamics in a community perspective with earth observations across space.

MSCA fellow

Angela Luisa Prendin

Researcher Department of Biology - Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity


Signe Normand

Professor, Centre Director Department of Biology - Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity


Urs Treier

Lab Manager Department of Biology - Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity