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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 14, pp 4009–4024 | Cite as

Epiphytes of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) plantations in Ireland and the effects of open spaces

  • Linda CooteEmail author
  • George F. Smith
  • Daniel L. Kelly
  • Saoirse O’Donoghue
  • Paul Dowding
  • Susan Iremonger
  • Fraser J. G. Mitchell
Original Paper

Abstract

The epiphytes of the trunks and branches of mature Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) trees were studied in twelve plantations containing open spaces (glades, rides and roads) in the east and southwest of Ireland. A pair of trees was studied at each site: one tree at the south-facing edge of an open space and one in the forest interior. Spruce trees were found to support a moderately diverse range of bryophytes and lichens, including two relatively rare bryophyte species. Clear patterns in vertical distribution were identified, with bryophyte richness and cover decreasing and lichen richness and cover increasing from the tree base to the upper trunk. The open spaces themselves did not appear to affect overall epiphyte diversity, with no significant differences in any of the diversity measures between edge and interior trees. The main effect of open spaces was on the epiphyte cover of the edge trees. This was related to increased light levels combined with the presence of live branches from close to ground level on the south sides of the edge trees, which produced optimum conditions for bryophytes at the tree base and lichens in the upper plots. However, this dense side-canopy negatively affected epiphyte diversity on the north sides of the edge trees. Further research is required to assess the effects of open spaces within forestry plantations on epiphyte diversity.

Keywords

Bryophyte Epiphyte Forest biodiversity Glade Lichen Sitka spruce 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Deirdre Ninaber, Siobhán McNamee and Bastian Egeter for their assistance with fieldwork. We also thank T.H. Blackstock, Dr B. Coppins, H. Fox, Dr D.T. Holyoak, G.P. Rothero and R. Porley for identification of difficult specimens. The comments of three anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged. This work was carried out as part of the BIOFOREST project (http://bioforest.ucc.ie) which was jointly funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Council for Forest Research and Development (COFORD) through the National Development Plan.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Coote
    • 1
    Email author
  • George F. Smith
    • 1
  • Daniel L. Kelly
    • 1
  • Saoirse O’Donoghue
    • 1
  • Paul Dowding
    • 1
  • Susan Iremonger
    • 1
  • Fraser J. G. Mitchell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany, School of Natural SciencesTrinity College DublinDublinIreland

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