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Research article2015Peer reviewed

Tree species composition affects the abundance of rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.) in urban forests in Finland

Hamberg, Leena; Lehvavirta, Susanna; Kotze, D. Johan; Heikkinen, Juha


Recent studies have shown a considerable increase in the abundance of rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) saplings in urban forests in Finland, yet the reasons for this increase are not well understood. Here we investigated whether canopy cover or tree species composition, i.e., the basal areas of different tree species in Norway spruce dominated urban forests, affects the abundances of rowan seedlings, saplings and trees. Altogether 24 urban forest patches were investigated. We sampled the number of rowan and other saplings, and calculated the basal areas of trees. We showed that rowan abundance was affected by tree species composition. The basal area of rowan trees (>5 cm in diameter at breast height, dbh) decreased with increasing basal area of Norway spruce, while the cover of rowan seedlings increased with an increase in Norway spruce basal area. However, a decrease in the abundance of birch (Betula pendula) and an increase in the broad-leaved tree group (Acer platanoides, Alnus gludnosa, Alnus incana, Amelanchier spicata, Prunus padus, Quercus robur, Rhamnus frangula and Salix caprea) coincided with a decreasing number of rowans. Furthermore, rowan saplings were scarce in the vicinity of mature rowan trees. Although it seems that tree species composition has an effect on rowan, the relationship between rowan saplings and mature trees is complex, and therefore we conclude that regulating tree species composition is not an easy way to keep rowan thickets under control in urban forests in Finland. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Urban woodlands; Saplings; Tree species interactions; Regeneration

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2015, Volume: 151, pages: 369-377

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

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