The expansion of so-called evergreen conifers (EGCs), including Siberian stone pine, spruce, and fir, along the transect oriented from the boundary of the larch-dominated zone (LDZ; mixed forests of the Yenisei Ridge) to its center has been studied. The normalized dispersal coefficient calculated as K i = (n i − N i )/(n i + N i ), where n i and N i are the relative numbers of the ith species in the undergrowth and the upper layer, respectively, serves as an indicator of the expansion. It has been found that the K i values for EGCs (and birch) are higher than the K i of larch even in the zone absolutely dominated by larch, where the relative numbers of EGCs in the upper layer is less than 1%. The EGC undergrowth has mainly been formed during the past 20–30 years, which is correlated with the trend of summer temperatures The spread of EGCs in the LDZ depends on the frequency of forest fires. The decrease in the time intervals between fires in the 20th century to 65 years (versus 100 years in the 19th century) may have prevented the expansion of competing species in the LDZ. The results obtained indicate that EGCs and birch penetrate into the zone traditionally dominated by larch, which is related to climatic changes during the past three decades. At the same time, tree stand density is increasing in the forest-tundra ecotone, and larch is spreading further into the tundra zone.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: May 16, 2005
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