Greenland plant diversity patterns and pollination networks in a changing Arctic

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Natasha de Vere


University of Copenhagen


DKK 4,999,278




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


This project aims to understand the patterns of plant diversity and pollinator interactions in Greenland, and to quantify the impacts of climate change on Arctic terrestrial ecosystems. To understand the effect of climate change on plants and pollinators, we aim to: 1. Measure current Greenlandic floral diversity patterns and corresponding key environmental factors. 2. Improve our understanding of plant-pollinator interactions for a range of high and low Arctic habitats. 3. Model how both floral diversity and pollinator ecosystem processes may alter with future environmental changes.


Understanding current and future changes in biodiversity and ecosystem processes is of key importance for mitigating against the rapid environmental changes caused by the climate crisis. We focus on Greenland, because of the urgency of rapid climatic changes currently seen here. Greenland's strong climatic gradients and vegetation zones, combined with the excellent coverage of climate data and extensive herbarium collections, make the island an important study system for understanding current and future changes in Arctic ecosystems.


The recently digitised Greenland Herbarium at the Natural History Museum of Denmark consists of 146,000 specimens of vascular plants, providing an unrivalled resource for understanding the flora of Greenland. Using genome skims, we will create an open-access DNA barcode reference library for the Greenlandic flora. The genomic data and herbarium records will be used to understand patterns of species and phylogenetic diversity. We will then investigate plant-pollinator interactions based on fieldwork at sites throughout Greenland, using pollen DNA metabarcoding, to create plant-pollinator networks. Finally, we will combine the plant and pollinator data with environmental datasets and climate indices, to model future changes in floral diversity and pollination ecosystem processes.

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