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Relationships between plant assemblages and water flow across a boreal forest landscape: a comparison of liverworts, mosses, and vascular plants
Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Umeå, Sweden; Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Forest Science Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada . (Landscape ecology)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3896-8466
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Landscape ecology ; Arcum)
Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Landscape ecology ; Arcum)
2016 (English)In: Ecosystems (New York. Print), ISSN 1432-9840, E-ISSN 1435-0629, Vol. 19, no 1, 170-184 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The distribution of water across landscapes affects the diversity and composition of ecological communities, as demonstrated by studies on variation in vascular plant communities along river networks and in relation to groundwater. However, nonvascular plants have been neglected in this regard. Bryophytes are dominant components of boreal flora, performing many ecosystem functions and affecting ecosystem processes, but how their diversity and species composition vary across catchments is poorly known. We asked how terrestrial assemblages of mosses and liverworts respond to variation in (i) catchment size, going from upland-forest to riparian settings along increasingly large streams and (ii) groundwater discharge conditions. We compared the patterns found for liverworts and mosses to vascular plants in the same set of study plots. Species richness of vascular plants and mosses increased with catchment size, whereas liverworts peaked along streams of intermediate size. All three taxonomic groups responded to groundwater discharge in riparian zones by maintaining high species richness further from the stream channel. Groundwater discharge thus provided riparian-like habitat further away from the streams and also in upland-forest sites compared to the non-discharge counterparts. In addition, soil chemistry (C:N ratio, pH) and light availability were important predictors of vascular plant species richness. Mosses and liverworts responded to the availability of specific substrates (stones and topographic hollows), but were also affected by soil C: N. Overall, assemblages of mosses and vascular plants exhibited many similarities in how they responded to hydrological gradients, whereas the patterns of liverworts differed from the other two groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer-Verlag New York, 2016. Vol. 19, no 1, 170-184 p.
Keyword [en]
catchment size, groundwater discharge, liverworts, mosses, riparian zones, river network, species richness, vascular plants
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
biology, Environmental Science; Ecological Botany
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100213DOI: 10.1007/s10021-015-9927-0ISI: 000373017800013OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-100213DiVA: diva2:790790
Funder
Swedish Research Council FormasMistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research
Note

First published in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2015-02-25 Created: 2015-02-25 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Grow with the flow: Hydrological controls of riparian vegetation in boreal stream networks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Grow with the flow: Hydrological controls of riparian vegetation in boreal stream networks
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

What drives species diversity across landscapes is one of the most fundamental questions in ecology. Further, understanding the mechanisms underlying species diversity patterns is important not only for forming and challenging ecological theories but also essential for appropriate landscape management and effective nature conservation. This thesis focuses on patterns of vascular plant, moss and liverwort species richness and composition in relation to water flow in boreal-forest catchments, focusing mostly on riparian zones (RZs), that is terrestrial areas bordering streams and rivers. I addressed some of the most essential questions related to the ecology of riparian vegetation including the role of stream network position, groundwater (GW) flow paths, substrate availability, upland perturbations, and stream restoration. I also investigated how riparian soil processes and habitat properties relate to these factors in order to provide a holistic understanding of riparian dynamics. The results showed that the species richness and composition of riparian vascular plants, mosses and liverworts are strongly influenced by position along the stream network, GW discharge, presence of variable substrates in RZs, and by stream restoration. Generally, more species were found downstream in the network, at sites with inputs of upland GW, sites with high diversity of substrates (e.g., open mineral soil, rocks, stones, wood and bark), and along streams restored after channelization. This thesis also describes how riparian habitat properties responded to position in the landscape and human impacts, thus providing mechanistic links between plant species diversity and riparian processes across spatial scales. These ecological insights are further implemented into numerous recommendations for freshwater and upland management in boreal Sweden. Given that streams and rivers connect landscape elements both longitudinally and laterally I argue that management plans should be designed for entire catchments instead of individual river segments. Ignoring the connectivity of streams as well as the high connectivity of riparian areas to uplands via GW flows may result in failure of restoration, mitigation and/or protection actions. Further, during forestry operations more emphasis should be placed on GW discharge areas along streams and rivers, because they represent important ecological and biogeochemical hotspots in the landscape. The riparian buffers left along streams in boreal catchments affected by forestry are presently insufficiently wide and often uniform in width. This threatens the assemblages of species in GW discharge hotspots and the ecosystem services they provide. Overall, this thesis describes a holistic picture of riparian diversity patterns and riparian processes in boreal landscapes, acknowledges and elaborates on current ecological theories, presenting new patterns in biodiversity, and offers management guidelines. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Univeristy, 2015. 27 p.
Keyword
boreal forest, channelization, groundwater, Krycklan catchment, liverworts, mosses, riparian buffers, riparian vegetation, river restoration, species richness, stream network, stream size, vascular plants
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100217 (URN)978-91-7601-212-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-03-26, Björken, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Skogsmarksgränd 901 83, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas
Available from: 2015-03-05 Created: 2015-02-25 Last updated: 2015-03-09Bibliographically approved

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