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Effect of forest clear-cutting on subtropical bryophyte communities in waterfalls, on dripping walls, and along streams
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
2010 (English)In: Ecological Applications, ISSN 1051-0761, E-ISSN 1939-5582, Vol. 20, no 6, 1648-1663 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Forested freshwater ecosystems worldwide are threatened by a number of anthropogenic disturbances, such as water pollution and canalization. Transient or permanent deforestation can also be a serious threat to organisms in forested watersheds, but its effects on different types of freshwater systems has been little studied. We investigated lotic bryophyte communities on rock and soil in subtropical cloud laurel forests on La Gomera Island in the Canary Islands, Spain, and asked whether the response to forest clear-cutting varied among the communities associated with dripping walls, streams, and waterfalls. We compared three successional forest stages: ancient forests (>250 years), young forests (20-50 years after clear-cutting), and open stands (5-15 years after clear-cutting). In each of 56 study sites we sampled general vegetation and substrate data in a 0.01-ha plot and took composition data of bryophyte species in 3 + 3 subplots of 1 x 1 m. The general pattern of decline in species richness and change in species composition after forest clear-cutting was stronger for streamside assemblages compared to assemblages on dripping walls and in waterfalls. The change in species numbers on rocks was larger than that on soils, because a guild of species growing on soil (but not on rocks) were favored by disturbance and thus increased in the disturbed sites. Most of the sensitive species could be classified as typical laurel forest species. Mosses were generally more tolerant to forest clear-cutting than were liverworts. We suggest that streamsides are more sensitive to disturbance than waterfalls and dripping walls because of a larger variation in microclimate before than after clear-cutting and because they are more easily invaded by early-successional species (both bryophytes and highly competitive vascular plants). We propose that special care should be taken along small streams within disturbed watersheds if bryophyte assemblages and threatened species should be protected. The susceptibility to anthropogenic pressures is probably rather high in ecosystems that do not regularly experience large-scale stand-replacing disturbances, especially on oceanic islands because of isolation and a small total habitat area for focal organisms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 20, no 6, 1648-1663 p.
Keyword [en]
Canary Islands, Spain, clear-cutting, disturbance, dripping wall, habitat loss, laurel forest, liverwort, moss, riparian environment, stream, substrate, waterfall
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-49452DOI: 10.1890/09-1086.1ISI: 000281278500013OAI: diva2:378322
authorCount :3Available from: 2010-12-15 Created: 2010-12-14 Last updated: 2010-12-15Bibliographically approved

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Hylander, Kristoffer
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