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Spatiotemporal changes in the landscape structure of forests in northern Sweden

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Altered forest landscape structure has been suggested as a possible cause for the decline of some specialized forest species in Fennoscandia. Here, we present a time series of boreal landscape changes in 1954–2005 in 16 5×5 km sub-areas in Sweden, based on aerial photo interpretation. We explored how coniferous forest vegetation types, known to be important to some specialized forest species, have been fragmented and also declined in mean patch size and their proportion of the landscape. We divided the studied area into a western (inland) and eastern (coastal) part based on different timing of landscape changes. The mean patch area of forest >50 yrs declined from ~90 ha in 1954 to 10 ha in 2005 in the inland and from 30 ha to only ~5 ha patches in the coastal area. Common vegetation types, such as mesic and moist forest >50 yrs showed a similar declining trend. In our study area, the long-term decline 1971–2005 of the specialized forest species grey-sided vole (Myodes rufocanus) coincided with the decline of mean focal patch size of forest >50 yrs. The data presented here can be used in further analyses of species–landscape interactions along spatiotemporal gradients.
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Keywords: Landscape changes; aerial photos; boreal forest; fragmentation; patch size; specialized forest species

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden 2: Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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