Question: How does the vegetation of boreal forests respond to harvesting and scarification?
Location: 650 m a.s.l., central Sweden (61°38′ N).
Methods: The response of boreal forest vegetation to cutting and scarification was studied in a field trial, which consisted of three treatments plus conventional harvesting as a control in a complete block design with four replicates. The cutting was done 14 years prior to vegetation inventory and scarification and planting were conducted the first or second years after cutting.
Results: The species most abundant at higher cutting intensities were crustose lichens, Cladonia spp., Cladina arbuscula, Polytrichum spp. and pioneer mosses, the grass Deschampsia flexuosa, and the tree Betula pubescens, A few species had substantially lower abundance in treatments with higher cutting intensity, notably Hylocomium splendens and Vaccinium myrtillus. Scarification had a strong effect that was different from the one created by cutting. In scarification treatments, Polytrichum spp. were the only species with high abundance; most species had low abundance, i.e. Barbilophozia lycopodioides, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Pleurozium schreberi, Carex globularis, Empetrum nigrum, Cladina arbuscula, Sphagnum spp.
Conclusions: Our results elaborate on the details of the well-known effect of cutting on ground-layer flora, and also give support for the profound and long-lasting effect that soil scarification has on forest vegetation.
Nomenclature: T. Karlsson (1998).