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Posted Fri Nov 18 2011: from
Are lemmings turning the Arctic green?
Researchers found that large populations of lemmings are turning the Arctic green as the herbivores graze on plants and fertilise the soils. But for all it appears the the retreat of Arctic the tundra is encouraging global warming it may actually cool down the climate as plants can grow bigger and store more carbon. The team from the University of Texas at El Paso found when lemmings are excluded from the Arctic environment in enclosures in Alaska there is an increase in certain plant types called lichens and bryophytes. However when the lemmings were present there were surprising increases in grass and sedge, the plant material that lemmings actually feed on.... Dr Johnson said the increasing plant matter could reduce global warming as bigger plants absorb more carbon. On the other hand soil decomposition increases with warmer temperatures meaning soil microbes are respiring and releasing carbon into the atmosphere and potentially increasing climate warming. "We still don't know the relative magnitude of these two feedbacks to warming...."
[Read more stories about: arctic meltdown, ecosystem interrelationships, permafrost meltdown]

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