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Dynamics of natural hemiboreal woodland in the Moricsala Reserve, Latvia: the studies of K. R. Kupffer revisited

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Karl Reinhold Kupffer (1872-1935), an outstanding botanist and plant ecologist, took the initiative that led to the establishment of the first nature reserve in Latvia, on Moricsala Island in 1912. The reserve provided an excellent reference area for natural hemiboreal woodland for future generations. There have been very few studies on the dynamics of natural broadleaved forest in Europe, probably owing to lack of primeval forests of this type. However, Kupffer produced a map of forest types in the reserve with accurate descriptions of the vegetation by layers, and his descriptions include interpretations of forest dynamics processes. This information, together with the present age and diameter structure of mixed pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) stands in the Moricsala Reserve in Latvia, was used to reconstruct the past successional sequences of tree species in 2006-2007. Tree age and diameter at breast height of trees in two transects (total area 6600 m2) and four plots (each 400 m2) were measured. In one transect, located in the most pristine part of the reserve, and in one plot, lime (Tilia cordata) is gradually replacing oak in the canopy. In the second transect, oak is replacing a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) overstorey, and a spruce understorey observed there at the start of the twentieth century has been outlived by oak. In mixed oak-spruce stands, wind-induced mortality of spruce is followed by waves of release and self-thinning of spruce, and there is evidence that oak in the understorey can utilize the periods of weak competitive pressure to recruit to higher age and size classes.

Keywords: Forest; Kupffer; lime; natural succession; oak; spruce

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Latvia, Faculty of Biology, Riga, Latvia 2: Daugavpils University, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Daugavpils, Latvia

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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