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The impact of forest continuity and management on forest floor vegetation evaluated by species traits

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The distribution of the flora with different species attributes are investigated in two studies of forest ecosystems in Denmark. One study compared 17 forests with different degrees of management, the other study compared the flora of 25 old forests with that of 6 new forests. No effect of forest management could be detected in the distribution of species attributes in the flora, whereas the forest continuity was correlated with almost all of the 14 traits investigated. Species with heavy seeds, transient seedbanks, ant dispersed seeds, early and short flowering time, low stature and high extent of lateral spread were more common in old forests, while the proportion of species with small, short-lived seeds, epizoochorous dispersal, little lateral spread and later and longer flowering period was higher in new forests. In particular, Raunkiaers therophytes, and ruderal species were more common in new forests than in old.

Differences in the effects of the two types of disturbance – forest management, and breaks in forest continuity – are discussed in relation to survival strategies of the forest flora. The importance of persistence ability in contrast to colonisation ability is stressed for many forest plants.

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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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