Plant Ecology

, Volume 162, Issue 1, pp 9–22

Vegetation development on pumice at Mount St. Helens, USA


  • Roger del Moral
    • Department of BotanyUniversity of Washington
  • Chad Jones
    • Department of BotanyUniversity of Washington

DOI: 10.1023/A:1020316503967

Cite this article as:
del Moral, R. & Jones, C. Plant Ecology (2002) 162: 9. doi:10.1023/A:1020316503967


This study explores early vegetation development on pumice at Mount St.Helens. We monitored species annually in a grid of 200 contiguous100-m2 plots between 1989 and 1999. Of interestwere how vegetation changed and if it became more homogeneous over time.Speciesrichness and cover increased annually. Diversity(H′) stabilized by 1996 and began to decline aslong-livedstress-tolerant species such as Agrostis pallens, Carexmertensii and Penstemon cardwellii began todominate. Protected sites had more species and higher cover than did exposedones. Plots next to relict vegetation had more species and cover than diddistant plots. The vegetation initially was dominated by species with gooddispersal, but subsequently those with poor dispersal became dominant. Wecompared species expansion patterns to a model based on random colonization.Theresults implied that populations with poor dispersal derived from a fewcolonists that then produced seeds for local expansion. Detrendedcorrespondenceanalysis showed a pronounced shift in species composition. This analysis alsoshowed that species composition was becoming more homogeneous over time.However, significant heterogeneity remained and some plots are diverging fromothers. As yet, this vegetation is not developing towards a regional vegetationtype. Rather, an unusual community with Agrostis spp.,Carex spp., Penstemon cardwellii, Lupinuslepidus, Anaphalis margaritacea and Salixcommutata has developed. The accumulation phase of primarysuccessionis nearly complete. The next phase, in which vertical structure develops asSalix and conifers mature, has scarcely begun. It shouldbemarked by the invasion of forest understory species and loss of subalpinemeadowspecies. Assembly rules based on biotic interactions may then become evident.

ClassificationCommunity assemblyConvergencePrimary successionVolcano

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002