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Evaluating buffer strips along boreal streams using bryophtes as indicators
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Ecology and Environmental Science.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Ecology and Environmental Science.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Ecology and Environmental Science.
2002 (English)In: Ecological Applications, ISSN 1051-0761, E-ISSN 1939-5582, Vol. 12, no 3, 797-806 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Buffer strips have recently become the main management practice for reducing logging impact on stream habitats in boreal and temperate regions. The habitat value of buffer strips, however, has not received much attention, although riparian forests belong to the systems with the highest biodiversity in these regions. We used plants as indicators of the ability of buffer strips to maintain an environment similar to intact riparian forests in a boreal forest landscape in northern Sweden. We measured the growth of three common bryophyte species (Hylocomiastrum umbratum, Calypogeia integristipula, and Tritomaria quinquedentata) transplanted to riparian habitat close to a stream in clear-cut logged sites 10-15 m wide buffer strips on each side of the stream, and intact (reference) sites. Each of the three site categories included six wet and six tnoist-mesic sites and the experiment was followed over three months in 1999. The species remained vital in the reference sites and grew substantially during the 3-mo-long experiment, but in the logged sites almost no growth was registered, and many shoots died (except for T. qninquedentata). The pattern was consistent irrespective of the ground moisture class. The performance of bryophytes in the moist-mesic buffer strips was almost as bad as in the logged sites, whereas in the wet buffer strips it was either intermediate between that in logged and reference sites (H. umbratum) or very similar to that in reference sites (C. integristipula and T. quinquedentata). The edge effect has previously been shown to vary depending on edge orientation, edge physiognomy, and weather conditions. We found that ground moisture can be of major importance as well. Although many buffer strips function better than no strips, 20-30 m wide strips (with a stream in the middle) through a logged area consist entirely of edge habitat. Increasing the buffer width and avoiding clear-cut logging on both sides of a watercourse would be the first steps to take for improving biodiversity conservation in riparian habitats. Our results also show that bryophytes are good indicators of habitat quality and efficient tools for assessing the ecological function of buffer strips.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. Vol. 12, no 3, 797-806 p.
Keyword [en]
biodiversity, boreal forests, bryophyte, buffer strips, edge effects, forestry, habitat quality, hepatic, moss, phytometer, Sweden
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-3870DOI: 10.2307/3060990ISI: 000175693800021OAI: diva2:142760
Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15 Last updated: 2014-03-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Living on the edge: effectiveness of buffer strips in protecting biodiversity on boreal riparian forests
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Living on the edge: effectiveness of buffer strips in protecting biodiversity on boreal riparian forests
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The objective of this thesis is to evaluate the ecological consequences of buffer strip retention on riparian and terrestrial biodiversity. Earlier studies on forest buffer strips have evaluated their effectiveness in relation to water quality and aquatic biota. However, forests along streams are species rich habitats for many organism groups. Buffer strip management is assumed to be important also for protecting such species. Current approaches to biodiversity-oriented forest management practices need to be scientifically evaluated. In this thesis the effects on bryophytes and land snails have been evaluated.

A before-and-after experiment along 15 small streams in northern Sweden showed that buffer strips of 10 m on each side of the stream moderated the negative effects exhibited at the clear-cuts. The number of land snail species remained similar as to before logging and the number of vanished bryophyte species was lower in the buffer strips than in the clear-cuts. The ground moisture influenced the survival rate of land snails at the clear-cuts. At mesic sites many species vanished but at wet sites the snail fauna was unaffected by the logging.

Many bryophyte species, most of them liverworts, decreased or disappeared in the buffer strips. These were mostly growing on substrates elevated from the forest floor, such as logs, stumps and tree-bases. A number of nationally red-listed species, sensitive for changes in microclimate, were among those decreasing most. Thus, for the species in most need of protection the buffer strips were too narrow.

An experiment with bryophyte transplants followed over a season showed that wet ground moisture moderated the negative edge effects in narrow buffer strips. On the other hand, the growth in mesic and moist sites was almost as low as in comparable clear-cuts.

Microclimatic edge effects are stronger at south facing than north-facing edges of forest clear-cuts. This was shown in an experiment using bryophyte growth as an indicator of differences in microclimate. However, the depth of edge influence seemed to be similar between north- and south-facing forest edges, >30 m for one species. An explanation for this could be that wind penetrates deeper into edges than solar radiation and has a more variable direction.

In conclusion, narrow buffer strips consist entirely of edge habitat. For many species the environment in buffer strips is good enough for persistence. For others, most notably bryophyte species on convex substrates, wider buffer strips are needed to ensure long-term survival.

35 p.
Ecology, boreal forest, bryophyte, buffer strip, ecological boundary, edge effect, headwater stream, land snail, liverwort, moss, phytometer, riparian forest, substrate, terrestrial gastropod, Ekologi
National Category
Research subject
Ecological Botany
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-233 (URN)91-7305-611-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2004-05-07, P.O. Bäckströms sal, SLU, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15Bibliographically approved

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