Full text in PDF
The aim here was to review and summarize the findings of scientific studies concerning the types of forest dynamics which occur in natural forests (i.e. forests with negligible human impact) of boreal Fennoscandia. We conducted a systematic search for relevant studies from selected reference databases, using search terms describing the location, structure and processes, and degree of naturalness of the forest. The studies resulting from these searches were supplemented with other known works that were not indexed in the databases. This procedure yielded a total of 43 studies. The studies were grouped into four types of forest dynamics according to the information presented on the characteristics of the native disturbance-succession cycle: 1) even-aged stand dynamics driven by stand-replacing disturbances, 2) cohort dynamics driven by partial disturbances, 3) patch dynamics driven by tree mortality at intermediate scales (> 200 m2) and 4) gap dynamics driven by tree mortality at fine scales (< 200 m2). All four dynamic types were reported from both spruce and pine dominated forests, but their commonness differed. Gap dynamics was most commonly reported in spruce forests, and cohort dynamics in pine forests. The studies reviewed provide the best obtainable overall picture of scientific findings concerning the characteristics and variability of the unmanaged boreal forest dynamics in Fennoscandia. The results demonstrate that the unmanaged Fennoscandian forests are characterized by more diverse and complex dynamics than has traditionally been acknowledged.