Recent Local Birch Forest (Betula pubescens ssp. czerepanovii) Evolution in the Treeline Ecotone of the Swedish Scandes-response to Earlier Snow-melt

Repeat photography, demographic analysis, and tree growth surveillance in permanent plots were used to study the conversion of a confined region of treeless alpine/subalpine tundra to mountain birch forest (Betula pubescens ssp. czerepanovii) in the context of recent climatic change. In addition, changes in the flora of the growing birch woodland stand were observed. The research began in 1980, when a massive snowdrift engulfed the site until mid-July. Since the early twentieth century, climate warming and related increased snow melt has caused the snow to melt sooner in most summers. As a result, a dense population of seed-regenerated low-growing birch seedlings has developed. when recruitment and height growth surged Following that, a dense stand of tree-sized birches grew. During this time, the ground cover changed from alpine snow bed to subalpine birch woodland, as the snow melted earlier and earlier in combination with the existence of a shade tree layer. The development of scattered Pinus sylvestris saplings was aided by earlier snow melt. In the hypothetical situation of increased climate warming, an equivalent course of patchy elevational subalpine forest development could be recommended as a viable option. The formation of this forest stand may resemble the growth of the first Holocene mountain birch woodland in certain ways.

Author (S) Details

Leif Kullman
Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, SE 901 87 Umeå, Sweden.

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