Current issue: 54(3)
Different environmental factors were studied to determine which factors influence the species richness, composition and structure of vascular plants in Pinus sylvestris L. forests in a fixed dune landscape in south-western Estonia. In addition to site topographic factors, different environmental parameters were investigated. Thirty-four vascular plant species were recorded in 232 quadrats. The most abundant species was Vaccinium vitis-idaea L., which was in 82.8% of quadrats, followed by Vaccinium myrtillus L. (74.1%), Melampyrum pratense L. (71.1%) and Deschampsia flexuosa (L.) Trin. (69.8%). The multiple response permutation procedure (MRPP) showed considerable differences in species composition at the bottoms of dunes compared with that on the slopes and at the tops of dunes. Indicator species analysis (ISA) determined species exhibited characteristics specific to zone: V. myrtillus had the highest indicator value at the bottoms of dunes; Calluna vulgaris L., at the tops. Soils were Haplic Podzols, and the presence of humus horizon depended on zone. Soil conditions on the dunes were variable and site specific, in general, soils at the bottoms of the dunes were more acidic and moist compared with those of the slopes and tops of the dunes, and the nutrient content decreased toward the dune tops. According to non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) and linear mixed model analyses, species coverage, composition and richness were controlled by site-specific factors such as absolute height, location and aspect of the quadrat on the dune; soil nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus contents; soil pH and moisture; light conditions; and the thickness of the litter horizon.