Colonization of mountain birch (Betula pubescens) on Skeiđarársandur
|Magdalena Milli Hiedl, Ţóra Ellen Ţórhallsdóttir, Kristín Svavarsdóttir||BÍ, LbhÍ, L.r., S.r., Hólar, VMS, MAST, HAG, Matís.||2009||Reykjavík|
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Skeiđarársandur is a huge floodplain (1,000 km2) in the South of Iceland at the foot of
Skeiđarárjökull. It is characterized by its sandy soil and mostly very sparse vegetation
(<5% cover) (Svavarsdóttir & Ţórhallsdóttir 2006). In recent years, mountain birch
(Betula pubescens) has colonized several sites on Skeiđarársandur. Birch forests are
generally regarded as the ”climax vegetation“ of the Icelandic lowlands and during
the Norse settlement they may have covered around 30% of the island. Its
establishment on Skeiđarársandur demonstrates that birch can also play a role in early
stages of primary succession.
In 2004, Bryndís Marteinsdóttir and co-workers (Marteinsdóttir et al. 2007) surveyed
birch populations at four sites on Skeiđarársandur, comparing densities, size and age
distributions, and recording maximum age and fecundity.