, Volume 203, Issue 2, pp 273-287,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Impact of tree species on nutrient and light availability: evidence from a permanent plot study of old-field succession

Abstract

This paper compares vegetation composition, light availability, carbon and nutrient pools and Ellenberg indicator values among four old-field successional permanent plots that have received an initial treatment (ploughing, herbicide or sterilisation) prior to being left undisturbed in 1969, a second set of six plots received additional treatments (continued ploughing or mulching until 1982). On all plots species rich pioneer forests developed. Vegetation still varies among plots with different initial treatments: Sterilised plots can be distinguished from the others by dominance of Betula pendula, ploughed plots by Fraxinus excelsior, whereas herbicide-treated plots are intermediate with proportions of both species. By affecting light availability at the ground, tree species in turn influences ground vegetation and soil properties. Light availability turned out to be the dominant factor determining the composition of the vegetation in old-field succession.