Current issue: 53(3)
Under compilation: 53(4)
Dwarf shrub layer is an important component of boreal and hemiboreal forest ecosystems that has received little attention, particularly regarding its structural diversity, which, however, could serve as an additional proxy for habitat quality. Dimensions of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) ramets were assessed in two sites in Latvia covered by dry oligotrophic Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stands 10–230 years of age. In total, 20 sampling plots (10×10 m) with 156 subplots (1×1 m) were sampled and 630 bilberry ramets analysed. The dimensions of ramets (age, diameter, and height) and cover of bilberry increased with stand age. The age of the studied ramets ranged 2–13 years; 5–6 years-old ramets were most frequent in all stands. The skewness of the distribution of the ramet dimensions shifted with stand age, leaning towards the higher values. Lower structural diversity of ramets was observed in stands 50–100 years of age. The highest diversity of ramet age structure occurred in stands younger than 150 years, whereas the oldest and largest ramets mostly occurred in the older stands (>150 years). Considering structural diversity of ramets, recovery of bilberry after stand-replacing disturbance (e.g. clearcut) was a continuous process, similarly to that observed in tree layer.
Forest ecosystems may accumulate large amounts of nitrogen in the biomass and in the soil organic matter. However, there is increasing concern that deposition of inorganic nitrogen compounds from the atmosphere will lead to nitrogen saturation; excess nitrogen input does not increase production. The aim of this study was to determine the long-term changes caused by nitrogen input on accumulation of nitrogen in forest soils and in ground vegetation.
The fertilization experiments used in this study were established during 1958–1962. They were situated on 36- to 63-year-old Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) stands of different levels of fertility. The experiments received nitrogen fertilization 5–7 times over a 30-year period, and the total input of nitrogen was 596–926 kg/ha.
Nitrogen input increased the amount of organic matter in the humus layer and the nitrogen concentration in the organic matter. Furthermore, the total amount of nutrients (N, P, K, Ca and Mg) bound by the humus layer increased due to the increase in the amount of organic matter. However, nitrogen input decreased the biomass of ground vegetation. The nitrogen concentration of the plant material on the nitrogen-fertilized plots was higher than on the control plots, but the amount of nutrients bound by ground vegetation decreased owing to the drastic decrease in the biomass of mosses. Ground vegetation does not have the potential to accumulate nitrogen, because vegetation is dominated by slow-growing mosses and dwarf shrubs which do not benefit from nitrogen input.
The tolerance of disturbance of the ground and field layer vegetation in a moderately fertile Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) on Oxalis-Myrtillus type forest in Southern Finland was studied. One of the sites, a summer cottage yard had been raked regularly during the last 25 years. The structure of the vegetation was quite different compared to the other sample site situated in a virgin forest. The phytomass and percentual coverage of the vegetation was remarkable lower in the raked habitat. Tall mosses, Pleuroxium schreberi and Hylocomnium splendens had especially disappeared. Most grass shrubs had also deteriorated. Only Deschampsia flexuosa was quite tolerant to raking. The phytomass of the dwarf shrubs was lower in the raked area but their relative production was higher. Three different kinds strategies of species were described: species of virgin shaded forest, species of meadow-like forest floor and species which tolerate or benefit from disturbance. The raked habitat had a higher species diversity than the virgin area. Nitrogen and carbon contents were lower in the soil of the raked area.
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.
A mature Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stand growing on a site of the Vaccinium type in Southern Finland was fertilized with nitrogen-rich NPK fertilizer at a level of 150 kg pure nitrogen per hectare. The sample plots were also irrigated during four growing seasons. The total amount of irrigation during this period was 1,200 mm. Fertilization alone increased the coverage of grasses and dwarf shrubs. The culmination of the increase occurred during the second growing season after the start of the treatment. The rapid effect of irrigation on the coverage of ground vegetation was not so strong as that of fertilization. It was concluded on the basis of the developed growth model that the coverage of dwarf shrubs, especially Calluna vulgaris, was, however, increased with the fertilization treatment for a prolonged period. Fertilization and irrigation had no visible effect on the coverage of lichens and mosses.
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.
Several studies of air polluted forest environments have shown that dwarf shrubs suffer from air pollution. In many cases the disturbances have been attributed to the susceptibility of the dwarf shrubs, while in some cases the vegetational competition factor has been discussed. The growth pattern of dwarf shrubs is very complicated and a single individual can cover large areas due to vegetative reproduction. Since dwarf shrub individuals cannot be transplanted for the purpose of laboratory or field tests, the only possibility is to use small cuttings for the bioindication studies. Some preliminary results are discussed.
The study deals with the trampling tolerance of forest vegetation in a Myrtillus type closed forest of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.), based on the effects of simulated trampling on the coverage and biomass on the field and between layers of the vegetation. The reliability of the results from the simulated trampling was tested by comparing them with those obtained from real trampling.
According to the results, the trampling tolerance of the bottom layers is greater than that of the field layer. The trampling tolerance of different species varies, so that grasses and dwarf shrubs have a higher tolerance capacity than herbs. Even light trampling of short duration caused noticeable changes in the coverage and biomass of the ground vegetation. Despite certain deficiencies, the simulated trampling gave parallel results of those obtained for real trampling.
The PDF includes a summary in English.