What evidence exists for temporal variability in Arctic terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity throughout the Holocene? A systematic map protocol


The Arctic tundra is subject to the greatest climate change-induced temperature rises of any biome. Both terrestrial and freshwater biota are responding to recent climate warming through variability in their distribution, abundance, and richness. However, uncertainty arises within models of future change when considering processes that operate over centennial timescales. A systematic evidence synthesis of centennial-scale variability in biodiversity does not currently exist for the Arctic biome. Here, we sought to address the primary research question: what evidence exists for temporal variability in Arctic terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity throughout the Holocene (11,650 years before present (yBP)—0yBP)?


Consultation with stakeholders informed key definitions, scoping and the appropriateness of the research question. The research question was structured using a PECO framework—Arctic biota (P), a timestamped year in the Holocene (E), another year in the Holocene (C), and the dimensions of biodiversity that have been measured (O)—to inform the search strategy. Search strings were benchmarked against a test list of 100 known sources to ensure a specific and comprehensive return of literature. Searches will occur across 13 bibliographic databases. The eligibility criteria specify that sources must: (a) use ‘proxy’ methods to measure biodiversity; (b) fall within the spatial extent of the contemporary Arctic tundra biome; and (c) consist of a time-series that overlaps with 11,650yBP to 0yBP (1950AD). Information coded from studies will include proxy-specific information to account for both temporal uncertainty (i.e., the characteristics of age-depth models and dating methods) and taxonomic uncertainty (i.e., the samples and processes used for taxonomic identification). We will assess temporal uncertainty within each source by determining the quality of dating methods and measures; this information will be used to harmonise dates onto the IntCal20 calibration curve and determine the available temporal resolution and extent of evidence through space. Key outputs of this systematic map will be: (1) a graph database containing the spatial–temporal properties of each study dataset with taxonomic harmonisation; and (2) a geographical map of the evidence base.


Palaeoecology, Dendrochronology, Late Quaternary, Lake sediments, Environmental archives, Environmental proxies

In progress