Current issue: 54(3)
Under compilation: 54(4)
We investigated the impact of a colony of great cormorants on the vegetation of the old growth Pinus sylvestris L. forest on the Curonian Spit peninsula, Lithuania. We studied the characteristics and rates of plant cover changes under varying length and intensity of bird influence. Plant species numbers, as well as the coverage of plants with different ecological requirements, varied according to the period of bird influence, but the resulting vegetation also depended upon the stand elevation above sea level. In our study, the initial increase in plant species richness at the start of bird nesting was not obvious and was of a transient character, due to the weak invasion of non-forest species and the rapid decline of forest plants. The colony area showed obvious and rapid vegetation changes during the investigation period. According to the calculated colony expansion rates, after 6–7 years of impact from birds the tree layer decreased by about four fold; the shrub layer decreased by about two fold; the field layer decreased by about 15 fold; and the dwarf shrub and bottom layers disappeared. The coverage by oligotrophic species decreased by more than four fold, while the coverage by eutrophic species increased by more than 60 fold. After 9–10 years of ornithogenic impact, all the trees were dead, and the protected coniferous forest ecosystem, with its characteristic plant species, had ceased to exist as such.
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.
The paper, presented at the seminar ”Forestry in Europe: Implications of European Integration for National Forestry”, discusses the effects of first Forestry Action Programme in the European Community, UNCED 1992, the European Community’s new Forestry Strategy and the second Forestry Action Programme directives of conservation of habitats on forestry within the EC.