Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Isla Myers-Smith

Research interests:

I am a plant ecologist that studies the influence of warming climate on tundra vegetation in northern ecosystems. In particular, I investigate the spread of willows and other shrub species into Arctic and alpine tundra. Shrubs have the potential to restructure tundra ecosystems by changing ecosystem functions and creating feedbacks to climate warming that could further the increase of shrubs. I conduct field research and data synthesis in collaboration with researchers working at sites around the circumpolar Arctic to better understand the causes and consequences of vegetation change in tundra ecosystems.

See also research group website:

Career history:

Present: Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Edinburgh

Active research projects:

Climate as a driver of shrub expansion and tundra greening

Myers-Smith, I.

1/03/15 – 30/04/16


Will genetic adaptation limit future shrub expansion in tundra ecosystems?

Myers-Smith, I.

20/06/14 – 20/08/14

UK-based charities

Recent publications:

Wrona, F.J., Johansson, M., Culp, J.M., Jenkins, A., Mård, J., Myers‐Smith, I.H., Prowse, T.D., Vincent, W.F. and Wookey, P.A., 2016. Transitions in Arctic ecosystems: Ecological implications of a changing hydrological regime. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 121(3), pp.650-674.

Myers-Smith, I.H., Elmendorf, S.C., Beck, P.S., Wilmking, M., Hallinger, M., Blok, D., Tape, K.D., Rayback, S.A., Macias-Fauria, M., Forbes, B.C. and Speed, J.D., 2015. Climate sensitivity of shrub growth across the tundra biome. Nature Climate Change, 5(9), pp.887-891.

Büntgen, U., Hellmann, L., Tegel, W., Normand, S., Myers‐Smith, I., Kirdyanov, A.V., Nievergelt, D. and Schweingruber, F.H., 2015. Temperature‐induced recruitment pulses of Arctic dwarf shrub communities. Journal of Ecology, 103(2), pp.489-501.

Myers-Smith, I.H., Hallinger, M., Blok, D., Sass-Klaassen, U., Rayback, S.A., Weijers, S., Trant, A.J., Tape, K.D., Naito, A.T., Wipf, S. and Rixen, C., 2015. Methods for measuring arctic and alpine shrub growth: A review. Earth-Science Reviews, 140, pp.1-13.

Elmendorf, S.C., Henry, G.H., Hollister, R.D., Fosaa, A.M., Gould, W.A., Hermanutz, L., Hofgaard, A., Jónsdóttir, I.S., Jorgenson, J.C., Lévesque, E. and Magnusson, B., 2015. Experiment, monitoring, and gradient methods used to infer climate change effects on plant communities yield consistent patterns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(2), pp.448-452.

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