Perennial ice and snow-covered land as important ecosystems for birds and mammals
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Biogeography. 2016, 43 (1), 3-12. 10.1111/jbi.12609
Aim To investigate the role of perennial ice and snow-covered land in the environment of birds and mammals, and to what degree vertebrates are parts of terrestrial glacial ecosystems. Location Global. Methods The synthesis was based on a review of existing literature. Results The relationship between perennial ice and snow-covered land and birds and mammals is generally poorly known and behaviours associated with such areas are likely underreported. Nevertheless, the review revealed that a relatively large range of species actively use and spend large amounts of time on ice covered land. Foraging or seeking relief from both climatic and different biotic factors are the main behaviours associated with these landscapes, but for some species they are also important areas for food caching, water, play and travel, and even as nesting grounds. In well-used sites, birds and mammals are likely important contributors to the nutrient cycling of glacial ecosystems. Main conclusions Despite increased global temperatures and rapid glacial melting in recent years, perennial ice and snow-covered landscapes have largely escaped management attention, likely due to them being viewed as inhospitable. It is, however, becoming increasingly clear that a large range of organisms inhabit and make use of the ice, and that these areas constitute high-quality parts of their habitats. It is therefore essential that glacierized areas are properly described, classified and managed as threatened ecosystems.