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Tree mortality and its causes and spatial pattern were examined along four transects (width 40 m, length 2550–3960 m), with a total length of 12 190 m and area of 48.8 ha, in a Pinus sylvestris L. dominated, boreal forest landscape. Tree mortality was determined within a time window of 3 years by identifying those trees (dbh ≥ 10 cm) along the transects that fitted into one of the three categories: 1) current mortality: trees that had died during the year of survey (1998), 2) recent mortality: trees that had died during the year (1997) before the survey year, and 3) predicted mortality: trees that were expected to die during the year (1999) following the survey year. Long-term tree mortality was studied on 10 plots (20 m x 100 m) by dating 87 dead trees using dendrochronological methods. The mean current mortality was 1.4 m3 ha–1 (3.7 trees ha–1). Both the recent and predicted mortalities were also 1.4 m3 ha–1. Mortality was, on the average, higher on peatlands than on mineral soils. The highest mortality was found within an area recently flooded by beavers. Over half of the examined trees (52%) were judged to die without any visible signs of an external abiotic cause. At the landscape scale, tree mortality was continuous although somewhat aggregated in space. Of the 66 dated standing dead Pinus trees, 23 (35%) had died during the 19th century and two during the 18th century, demonstrating that dead Pinus can remain standing for long periods of time before falling. Our results show that autogenic mortality of individual trees or small groups of trees was the predominant mode of disturbance in this Pinus dominated landscape.
University of Joensuu, Faculty of Forestry, P.O. Box 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland
University of Helsinki, Department of Forest Ecology, P.O. Box 27, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Finnish Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 18, FIN-01301 Vantaa, Finland