The underappreciated roles of dwarf-shrubs in responding to and influencing global climate change (DURIN)

Predicting how the biosphere will respond to the global climate and environmental changes, and in turn how these responses will feed back to and influence the climate and earth system, is a grand and urgent cross-disciplinary scientific challenge. Despite their broad climatic and geographic ranges and dominant ecosystem roles across boreal, alpine and arctic vegetation zones, much remains to be understood about the critical impact of dwarf-shrubs at different organizational levels; from physiological responses to species interactions and ecosystem functioning.

Exploring climate-responses and feedbacks across biomes and habitats, these insights will not only further fundamental knowledge, but through also integrating the under-represented dwarf-shrubs in earth system models, develop a more realistic parameterization of terrestrial processes.

DURINs unique multi-pronged empirical approach builds upon existing distributed observational systems, field experiments, and controlled-environment experiments. This enables great flexibility in exploring broad-scale patterns and context-dependencies in dwarf-shrub biotic interactions, and responses and feedbacks to climate across multiple sites. It also allows for detailed quantification of the underlying mechanisms and processes which can then be scaled to an earth system feedback perspective. To facilitate this, DURIN will develop a collaborative workflow facilitating cross-disciplinary knowledge transfer. DURIN is well-placed to conduct critical fundamental and applied climate change research through establishing a new research cluster, drawing together a uniquely-qualified team with complementary skills and expertise from seven world-class research institutions within Norway. The project leadership and partners have excellent track records in relevant fields, and DURIN will provide career opportunities for early-career researchers.