Soil animal communities of planted birch stands in central Finland
The aim of this study was to compare soil animal communities in planted birch (Betula pendula) stands of different origin with each other and with natural forests. Six 30-year-old birch stands were investigated, three planted after clear-cutting of spruce stands, and three planted on cultivated soil. The faunal communities were markedly different in plantations established on spruce forest soil and on arable soil. “Birch after Spruce” communities were relatively similar to those of coniferous forests, though the population densities were generally lower. “Birch after Field” communities were sparse and could be characterised as “impoverished forest communities”, except in Lumbricidae and Enchytraeidae that have affinities with deciduous forests and cultural landscapes. Soil conditions are not sufficient to explain the differences between the forests. Colonisation and transport by man may determine the presence of certain species, especially earthworms. These in turn affect soil properties, and compete with or otherwise have negative effects on other soil fauna. Thus the community differences between different forests are an outcome of several factors: soil characteristics, site history, colonisation ability and interspecific interactions.
Received 16 June 2004 Accepted 24 August 2004 Published 31 December 2005