Migration of vascular plant species to a recent wood adjoining ancient woodland

Zbigniew Dzwonko


Woodland communities can be restored by natural succession in sites adjoining ancient woodlands which can act as seed sources for trees, shrubs and woodland herbs. The influence of dominant tree species and the distance from an adjacent ancient oak-hornbeam woodland upon the floristic composition of species in a recent pine wood planted on dry rendzina soil were studied. It was found that, in spite of a 52-year long succession, the border between woods was sharp and the composition of species in the recent wood were significantly different than in the adjacent ancient woodland. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) showed that the distance to the ancient woodland had a significant influence on species distributions in the recent wood. The numbers of species from the Querco-Fagetea class, vegetatively reproducing species and myrmecochores decreased with this distance, whereas the numbers of anemochores increased. The migration rate of many woodland species, calculated on occurrence of the farthest individuals was very slow, varying from 0.0 m year-1 to 0.38 m year-1. The restoration of the field layer vegetation in the studied pine wood was much slower than in recent deciduous woods on rich and moist soils where the migration rate of some species exceeded 1.50 m year-1. Recent woods adjacent to ancient woodlands can be more effectively colonised by woodland species only when they are dominated by broad-leaved trees with quickly decomposing litter, and the spatial continuity of these woods persists for a long period.


ancient woodlands; recent woods; woodland restoration; secondary succession; seed dispersal; southern Poland

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