iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Rapid spread of a fleshy-fruited species in abandoned subalpine meadows - formation of an unusual forest belt in the eastern Carpathians

Tomasz Durak (1)   , Magdalena Zywiec (2), Pawel Kapusta (2), Jan Holeksa (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 2, Pages 337-343 (2015)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1470-008
Published: Nov 20, 2015 - Copyright © 2015 SISEF

Research Articles

In recent decades, most subalpine hay meadows and pastures have been abandoned, and trees have been recolonizing these sites where forest existed before agricultural activity. This study examined how woody vegetation, dominated by the deciduous fleshy-fruited tree Sorbus aucuparia (rowan), expanded on subalpine meadows in the Western Bieszczady Mountains (eastern Carpathians, Poland) after the cessation of agricultural use. The aims were to determine the abundance of rowan in the woody vegetation, to estimate the rate of rowan expansion in the studied area, and to characterize the variability of rowan stands and growth forms. Rowan dominated the current plant community of abandoned subalpine meadows, though this species is not considered a rapid colonizer of open areas and was not frequent in the uppermost forest belt before the colonization. The whole area was encroached by rowans in a very short period of time 60-70 years ago. Rowan tree density was similar throughout the elevational gradient but the growth form changed, becoming more shrub-like with increasing elevation. Rowan stands will likely be the main element of the subalpine belt in this region in the upcoming decades. At present, no tree species can be considered a rapid successor to rowan in the area.


Abandoned Subalpine Meadows, Forest Recolonization, Land Use Change, Subalpine Forest, Succession of Woody Vegetation

Authors’ address

Tomasz Durak
Department of Botany, University of Rzeszów, ul. Zelwerowicza 4, PL-35-601 Rzeszów (Poland)
Magdalena Zywiec
Pawel Kapusta
Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Lubicz 46, PL-31-512 Kraków (Poland)
Jan Holeksa
Adam Mickiewicz University, Faculty of Biology, Department of Plant Ecology and Environment Protection, ul. Umultowska 89, PL-61-614 Poznan (Poland)

Corresponding author

Tomasz Durak


Durak T, Zywiec M, Kapusta P, Holeksa J (2015). Rapid spread of a fleshy-fruited species in abandoned subalpine meadows - formation of an unusual forest belt in the eastern Carpathians. iForest 9: 337-343. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1470-008

Academic Editor

Emanuele Lingua

Paper history

Received: Oct 10, 2014
Accepted: Jul 17, 2015

First online: Nov 20, 2015
Publication Date: Apr 26, 2016
Publication Time: 4.20 months

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