University of Oulu

Maliniemi, T., Huusko, K., Muurinen, L. et al. Temporal changes in boreal vegetation under 70 years of conservation. Biodivers Conserv 32, 4733–4751 (2023).

Temporal changes in boreal vegetation under 70 years of conservation

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Author: Maliniemi, Tuija1,2; Huusko, Karoliina3; Muurinen, Lauralotta3;
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway
3Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-11-09


Biodiversity conservation through protected areas (PAs) is often based on the idea that biodiversity is relatively static. This assumption is increasingly being challenged as species and communities shift their distributions in response to changing environmental conditions. Empirical evidence on the performance of PAs over decades is still sparse or lacking from several environments, although it is needed to understand species dynamics, support modelling of PA performance, assist PA management and ultimately, to achieve global biodiversity conservation goals. In 2021, we resurveyed vegetation of five boreal habitat types (heath forests, paludified forests, sun-exposed sites, mires and eulittoral sites) in Rokua National Park in Finland, where one of the conservation targets is to preserve the flora characteristic of the area. The study sites were originally surveyed in 1945‐49, just before the National Park was established. Study sites have also remained free from the disturbances (forest fires and reindeer grazing) typical of boreal regions. We show that the compositional similarity of plant communities between habitat types has increased over time and is associated with the increase of forest species in several habitat types and the loss of many habitat-specific species. Drivers of change were most often linked to ongoing succession (understory closure) and changes in moisture conditions. Our results suggest that without natural disturbance or appropriate management efforts, the original conservation targets may be compromised over the decades. Our study demonstrates that resurvey of historical vegetation data can be effectively used to estimate long-term PA performance, helping to fill in missing temporal evidence.

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Series: Biodiversity and conservation
ISSN: 0960-3115
ISSN-E: 1572-9710
ISSN-L: 0960-3115
Volume: 32
Pages: 4733 - 4751
DOI: 10.1007/s10531-023-02723-7
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: TM, HT and JA were funded by Academy of Finland project number 322652, TM and LM by Finnish Cultural Foundation and KH by The Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation and Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 322652
Detailed Information: 322652 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit