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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Forest floor bryophyte and lichen diversity in Scots pine and Norway spruce production forests

Petersson, Lisa; Nilsson, Staffan; Holmstrom, Emma; Lindbladh, Matts; Felton, Adam


Bryophytes and lichens are two main components of the forest floor vegetation. They provide essential ecosystem services, including nutrient recycling and water regulation. Here, we contrast the species richness, cover and community composition of forest floor bryophytes and lichens in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) dominated production forests. The study sites were located in the hemiboreal zone of southern Sweden, and represented early-, mid- and late rotation stands. Our aim was to examine the potential consequences for forest floor biodiversity from the decreasing use of Scots pine production forests in this region.Whereas Scots pine and Norway spruce stands did not differ in bryophyte cover, we found a higher cover of lichens in Scots pine stands, and highest in the intermediate aged stands. Also the species richness of lichens was higher in the Scots pine stands, while bryophyte species richness was higher in the Norway spruce stands. Differences in canopy cover and associated light transmittance to the forest floor appears to be important drivers for distinctive different forest floor communities in the Scots pine and Norway spruce stands, as revealed by NonMetric Multidimensional Scaling (NMDS). Mean Ellenberg indicator values for bryophytes and lichens showed that species associated with Scots pine stands were characterized by their tolerance of brighter conditions, higher insolation, and better adaptation to a continental climate. Norway spruce stands instead had a comparably larger proportion of species tolerating lower light, but also indicators of higher available nutrient levels, humidity, and pH. The outcome of the Ellenberg indicator species analysis, as well as the larger cover of lichens,and adaptations to drought found among some mosses, revealed that forest floor communities are shaped by different environmental factors in Scots pine and Norway spruce production stands. These environmental differences, and the quantified shifts in forest floor communities identified in this study, indicate the large shifts in understory bryophyte and lichen species composition and abundance that is likely to occur if Scots pine stands are converted to Norway spruce.


Understory vegetation; Biodiversity; Moss; Liverwort; Pinus sylvestris; Picea abies; Managed coniferous plantations; Ellenberg indicator values

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2021, Volume: 493, article number: 119210
Publisher: ELSEVIER