Long-term changes in alpine plant communities in Norway and Finland
Virtanen, R.; Eskelinen, A.; Gaare, E.
Alpine diversity in Europe: 411-422
Long-term changes in species composition, abundance and diversity of alpine plant communities were analysed by using data sets from central Norway and NW Finland sampled in the 1920s and 1990s. Comparisons were made for seven sites representing heath, snowbed and soligenous mire vegetation. The cover and number of lichens declined in most communities probably owing to increased reindeer grazing and trampling. In heath, the cover of some bryophytes and dwarf shrubs increased on the Norwegian sites. Herbs and grasses increased in snowbed communities, while some typical snowbed plants disappeared or decreased. The data for snowbeds suggests that these communities may have responded to changes in snow cover as a result of the observed warmer climate in the 1990s. The species that showed a significant decline or increase may be considered for use in monitoring as indicators of environmental change.