This biome boundary is currently shifting because of ongoing climate warming and changes in land use. As a result, many species typical of the forest are expanding into the tundra, a process known as borealization. These shifts in the forest-tundra biome boundary will have important consequences for the functioning of terrestrial Nordic ecosystems and ultimately, for their ability to provide valuable ecosystem services.
The Nordic Borealization Network (NordBorN) proposes to create a collaboration platform across the Nordic countries to understand the implications of borealization in Nordic terrestrial ecosystems. The aim of NordBorN is two-fold: 1) to create a venue for research excellence in terrestrial ecology to understand the processes, drivers and consequences of borealization of Nordic ecosystems, and 2) to establish a training hub for the next generation of Nordic researchers. To achieve this goal, NordBorN will bring together six Nordic universities and three associated partners, including 27 participants in different career stages and with complementary expertise, who will jointly develop research funding applications and will create opportunities for mobility and co-supervision of graduate students across Nordic universities.
The research emphasis of NordBorN will be on understanding the implications of changes in species composition of tundra ecosystems, including arctic (high latitude) and alpine tundra (high elevation). We understand borealization broadly as the northward or upward shift in the distribution of species and communities in response to global changes. These shifts include the encroachment of woody species (treeline advance and shrub expansion), spread of non-native species, changes in the composition of plant, animal and microbial communities and in the trophic and functional structure of ecosystems, and changes in landscape structure and ecosystem processes. This broad range of topics encompasses different ecological disciplines, from forest sciences to historical ecology, and use different methodologies, from DNA metabarcoding to study animal diets, to drones for reporting landscape change. As such, borealization provides the scope for multidisciplinary work and highlights the need of a strong consortium with complementary expertise to address this task.