Canopy stratification in peatland forests in Finland
Abundance and species number of the tree and shrub vegetation in different canopy layers were analysed according to site quality class and drainage succession phase on permanent sample plots on spruce mires (n = 268) and pine mires (n = 628) in the Finnish National Forest Inventory in 1995. The abundances based on the crown coverage were compared with the abundances based on the parallel basal area of the tree stand. The canopy coverages and species number for peatland forests were also compared with those for mineral soil forests on the permanent sample plots (n = 1725) in 1995. In general, effective temperature sum correlated positively, although not very strongly, with the coverages and species number in most of the canopy layers, as well as with the mean range of the diameter distribution. The effects of both site quality class and drainage phase were stronger on pine mires than on spruce mires, most probably due to the longer fertility gradient and large potential free growing space in the former group. On pine mires, drainage increased the abundances and species number in the different canopy layers, as well as the structural inequality of the tree stands. On spruce mires, the increase was principally allocated to the abundances of the dominant and intermediate tree layers. The correlations between the total crown coverage of the tree layers and stand basal area were r = 0.45 for spruce mires and r = 0.70 for pine mires. Compared to mineral soil forests, in addition to having a higher abundance of Betula pubescens, the dominant layer was not as pronounced in peatland forests. On spruce mires, the coverage of the shrub layer on mesotrophic and meso-oligotrophic sites was higher than that in mineral soil forests. The average species number in different canopy layers did not differ significantly between spruce mires and mineral soil forests in corresponding site quality classes. On pine mires, the species number was generally lower (except for the mesotrophic sites) than that in corresponding mineral soil forests.
Received 1 March 2004 Accepted 10 November 2005 Published 31 December 2006