, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 115-129

Ecological optima and tolerances of Thelypteris limbosperma, Athyrium distentifolium, and Matteuccia struthiopteris along environmental gradients in Western Norway

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The distribution and abundance of Thelypteris limbosperma, Athyrium distentifolium, and Matteuccia struthiopteris are modelled statistically in relation to 14 environmental variables along the major climatic, topographic, and edaphic gradients in western Norway. The data are from 624 stands from which measurements or estimates of mean January and mean July temperatures, humidity, altitude, aspect, and slope are available. From 182 of these stands eight soil variables have also been measured. The species responses are quantified by two numerical methods: Gaussian logit regression and weighted averaging (WA) regression. The estimated WA optima suggest that A. distentifolium has an ecological preference for low July and January temperatures, high altitudes, and soils of low-medium pH and base content. The species shows statistically significant Gaussian responses with summer temperature, humidity (= Martonnes humidity index), altitude, slope, aspect, pH, cation exchange capacity, and base saturation with optima of 8.7 °C, 188.9, 1220 m, 28°, 29°, 4.8, 13.77 mEq 100 g dry soil-1, and 13.4%, respectively. These suggest that the occurrence and relative abundance of A. distentifolium are well predicted by summer temperature, topography, and soil pH and base status. T. limbosperma has WA optima that suggest that it favours moderately high winter and summer temperatures, high humidity, medium altitude, and soils of low pH and base content. It has significant Gaussian responses to summer temperature (optimum =12.6 °C), winter temperature (-1.8 °C), humidity (179.2), altitude (459.5 m), slope (22.5°), and Na (0.7 mg 100 g dry soil-1). These suggest that climatic factors, altitude, and slope are significant predictors for its occurrence and abundance. M. struthiopteris has high WA optima for summer temperature, pH, Ca, Mg, K, Na, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and base saturation, and a low optima for humidity and winter temperature. Of these, summer temperature (16.0 °C), Ca (63.1 mg 100 g dry soil-1), Mg (41.0 mg 100 g dry soil-1), K (23.6 mg 100 g dry soil-1), Na (5.0 mg 100 g dry soil-1), CEC (60.7 mEq 100 g dry soil-1), and base saturation (56.3%) have significant Gaussian logit responses, as do aspect (150.2°) and loss-on-ignition (9.4%). These results suggest that the occurrence and relative abundance of M. struthiopteris are well predicted by high soil base cations, a generally southern aspect, low organic content in the soil, and high July temperatures.