Document Type


Publication Date



Rapid climate change in arctic environments is leading to a widespread expansion in woody deciduous shrub populations. However, little is known about the reproductive, dispersal, and establishment mechanisms associated with shrub expansion. It is assumed that harsh environmental conditions impose limitations on plant sexual reproduction in the Arctic, such that population survival and expansion is predominately a function of clonal recruitment. We present contrary evidence from microsatellite genetic data suggesting the prevalence of recruitment by seed. Further, we present a conceptual model describing modes of recruitment in relation to the abiotic environment. Climate change may be alleviating abiotic stress so that resources are available for more frequent recruitment by seed. Such changes have widespread implications for ecosystem structure and functioning, including species composition, wildlife habitat, biogeochemical cycling, and surface energy balance. © 2010 Regents of the University of Colorado.