Coordinating editor: H. Bruelheide.
Pioneer vegetation on glacier forelands in southern Norway: emerging communities?
Version of Record online: 13 AUG 2009
© 2009 International Association for Vegetation Science
Journal of Vegetation Science
Volume 20, Issue 5, pages 889–902, October 2009
How to Cite
Robbins, J. A. and Matthews, J. A. (2009), Pioneer vegetation on glacier forelands in southern Norway: emerging communities?. Journal of Vegetation Science, 20: 889–902. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2009.01090.x
- Issue online: 28 AUG 2009
- Version of Record online: 13 AUG 2009
- Received 10 November 2008;Accepted 29 April 2009.
Vol. 21, Issue 4, 807, Version of Record online: 1 APR 2010
- Arctic-alpine vegetation;
- Cluster analysis;
- Disturbed habitats;
- Glacier forelands;
- Indicator species analysis;
- Multi-response permutation;
- Non-metric multidimensional scaling;
- Pioneer community;
- Primary succession;
- Variance partitioning
Question: How variable is the pioneer plant community on glacier forelands in southern Norway, both in terms of species composition and geographical distribution?
Location: The Jotunheim and Jostedalsbreen regions of southern Norway (61°-62°N, 6°-9°E).
Methods: The relative frequencies of vascular plant species were recorded in the pioneer zones of 43 glacier forelands, with an altitudinal range of 80-1860 m (boreal to high alpine) and an east-west range of 100 km. Classification and ordination techniques were used to search for evidence of consistently recurring communities, variability along a continuum or stochasticity.
Results: Mean variability in species composition between all glacier forelands sampled was 65% (Sørensen dissimilarity). Poa alpina, Oxyria digyna, Deschampsia alpina and Festuca ovina had the highest frequency, occurring on over 80% of forelands. Non-metric multidimensional scaling did not reveal clear divisions between groups of sites, but cluster analysis, multi-response permutation procedures and indicator species analysis suggested two sub-communities: the Saxifraga cespitosa-Trisetum spicatum sub-community is restricted to forelands above 1100 m in the Jotunheim region; whereas the D. alpina-O. digyna sub-community has a wider altitudinal range of 80-1780 m. Variance partitioning indicated that altitude alone accounts for 24%, distance east for 18%, and the component shared by altitude and distance east for 17% of the variance in species composition.
Conclusions: At the broadest scale, pioneer vegetation on the glacier forelands can be viewed as a single P. alpina-O. digyna community of predominantly wind- and water-dispersed perennials. However, this community shows a high degree of variability, with dominant species missing from a number of sites, and is poorly structured, suggesting a degree of stochasticity. Furthermore, the pioneer vegetation can be dissected within a continuum of variation to produce two emerging sub-communities, reflecting the influence of environmental factors and, possibly, early successional development within the pioneer zone. Variance partitioning indicates that altitudinal and continentality gradients are important in accounting for a significant proportion of the variability within this dataset.