Phytomonitoring with the use of plants as monitors is one of the types of controlling both of the ecological status of forest ecosystems and of the environment (ecological monitoring), in particular, its edaphic changes. The phytoindication methods of estimating ecological regimes through long, continuous and methodically similar studies at monitoring sites can fully satisfy the information needs for the identification of chronological displacements of ecotope indicators of forest ecosystems. In the present study, issues of phytoindication and phytomonitoring of major ecological factors for large-scale regional (zonal) investigations are analyzed.
Materials and Methods
Subjects of research are the first level monitoring plots (146 plots) located within Dnipro Left-bank Forest-Steppe forestry district of Ukraine. Method of phytoindication of major factors by unified ecological scales for Ukrainian flora species was used for indication of edaphic eco-regimes in forest ecosystem ecotopes. A concept of “eco-background” is used for the comparative monitoring of fluctuations and dynamics of the ecological regimes in relation to typical and zonally-provided values in the forest ecotopes of the region. The “eco-background” is the background factors of forests (a range of values within the limits of standard deviations) in relation to which the direction and intensity of edaphic and climatic processes are measured in the forest ecotopes of a specific region, and within the region, in the ecotopes of the coniferous, mixed and broad-leaved forests.
The differentiation of indexes for basic edaphic factors in forest ecotopes at the level of forestry district is caused by the zonal features of the ecological regimes forming in the different types of forest growth conditions and by the specific structure of the coniferous, mixed and broad-leaved forest communities. The edaphic eco-background was investigated as a component of the eco-background of district’s forests and within the district, separate edaphic eco-backgrounds of coniferous, mixed and broad-leaved forests were studied. Forest ecotopes in Dnipro Left-bank Forest-Steppe forestry district have the following variability of edaphic indices (within standard deviation): hydro-background is intermediate between Mesophytes and Hyhro-mesophytes (Wnp = 120…145 mm), acido-background is from Sub-acidophites to intermediate between Sub-acidophites and Neutrophites (pH = 6,0…6,5); total salt-background is from intermediate between Mesotrophes and Semi-eutrophes to Semi-eutrophes (soil enriched with salt Sl = 0,015…0,02 % with a content of HCO3¯ = 0,004…0,016 % of soil, and traces of SO42- and Cl¯), carbonate content-background is from soils suitable for plant eco-group, which is intermediate between Hemi-carbonatophobes and Acarbonatophiles, to soils suitable for plant eco-group close to Acarbonatophiles (CaO, MgO = 0,5…1,5 %); nitro-background is from soils moderately provided with mineral nitrogen to soils enough provided with mineral nitrogen (Nt = 0,2…0,4 %); it is intermediate between Hemi-nitrophites and Nitrophites.
The described methodical approaches of phytoindication and examples of their application show the potential of this scientific direction for the regional (zonal) ecological monitoring of ecological regimes in forest ecotopes. Minimum, average and maximal values of the ecological regimes for types of forest site conditions, for forest communities (coniferous, mixed, broad-leaved) and for district in whole, eco-background of district forests and separate eco-backgrounds of the coniferous, mixed and broad-leaved forests are acknowledged as the indices of regularities of change of certain ecological factors, and differentiation of forest ecosystems’ ecotopes. The edaphic eco-background (hydro-background, acido-background, total salt-background, carbonate content-background and nitro-background) of district’s forests and within the district, separate edaphic eco-backgrounds of coniferous, mixed and broad-leaved forests were investigated the in Dnipro Left-bank Forest-Steppe forestry district.
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