AVA-AK: Oumalik Vegetation Plots (Ebersole 1985)

Arctic Vegetation Archive - Alaska: Oumalik Vegetation Plots.

The vegetation in the vicinity of Oumalik Oil Well Number 1 was described and mapped by J. Ebersole for his doctoral thesis at the University of Colorado, Department of Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology (Ebersole 1985). Funding for the research came primarily from the Cold Climate Research Laboratory based on support from the U. S. Geological Survey program in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and the U. S. Department of Energy. Additional funding came from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, a University of Colorado (CU) Graduate Student Foundation Fund Award, a NSF Graduate Fellowship, a Danforth Foundation Graduate Fellowship, and a CU Tuition Fellowship. The study was initiated in 1979 with additional fieldwork completed in 1980 and 1981.

A total of one hundred forty-nine plots were subjectively located for uniformity in floristic composition and environmental conditions. Sixty-two plots included only vascular plant data and are not included in this dataset. Of the eighty-seven remaining plots, fifty-four were located in natural habitats and thirty-three in anthropogenically disturbed habitats. The fifty-four natural plots occurred in fourteen habitat types including: a) zoogenic communities (2 plots), b) naturally eroding lake or river bluffs dominated by graminoids and forbs (4 plots), c) naturally eroding lake or river bluffs dominated by shrubs (2 plots), d) willow shrub vegetation of riparian areas and warm habitats (1 plot), e) bog vegetation, acidic mires, including tussock tundra (22 plots), f) moist to wet acidic tussock and nontussock tundra (3 plots), g) moist to wet acidic low-shrub heaths (1 plot), h) moderately drained deep snowbeds (1 plot), i) moist and dry acidic dwarf-shrub heaths (8 plots), j) dry and mesic dwarf-shrub and graminoid vegetation on non-acidic substrate (1 plot), k) dry nonacidic tundra (1 plot), l) shallow nonacidic snowbeds (2 plots), m) moist nonacidic tundra (3 plots), and n) frost boil vegetation in nonacidic tundra (3 plots).

Plots were permanently marked with a stake and on an aerial photograph, and the size of each sample area was estimated after a complete species list and cover were obtained. Environmental data (including soil physical variables, subjective site assessments, and active layer depths) were collected in the field and soil samples were brought back to the lab for chemical assessments. DCA ordinations were used to analyze vegetation-environment relationships.

These data were subsequently used in several publications listed below.


Ebersole, J. J. 1985. Vegetation Disturbance and Recovery at the Oumalik Oil Well, Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska. PhD thesis, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Ebersole, J. J. 1987. Short-term recovery at an Alaskan Arctic Coastal Plain site. Arctic and Alpine Research 19:442-450.

Ebersole, J. J. 1989. Role of the seed bank in providing colonizers on a tundra disturbance in Alaska. Canadian Journal of Botany 67:466-471.

Forbes, B. C., J. J. Ebersole, and B. Strandberg. 2001. Anthropogenic disturbance and patch dynamics in circumpolar arctic ecosystems. Conservation Biology 15:954-969.

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Last Updated November 24, 2020, 08:45 (AKST)