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Dynamics of Understory Vegetation Structure in the Park Phytocenosis

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A.V. Gryaz'kin, A.A. Kochkin, V.V. Petrik

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The paper presents the results of a comparative analysis of the species composition of live ground cover, understory and undergrowth in the largest park Sosnovka in Saint Petersburg over a long observation period. The main part of the park is represented by phytocenoses of natural origin, where the research objects located at different distances from the main walking routes are chosen. The stand in all sites is represented by pine with a small admixture of birch. The forest type is a polytric pine forest, of the 5th quality class. The growing stock is 60…80 m3/ha. The vegetation of the understory is recorded comprehensively on circular discount areas of 10 m2. 30 plots are established at each site, where species composition, height structure, quantity and condition of undergrowth; species composition, height structure, quantity of understory; species composition, occurrence and projective cover of live ground cover are taken into account simultaneously. In addition, we record the share of the spontaneous footpath network. According to the results of the study, the species composition of undergrowth, understory and grass and shrub layer is established. Additional quantitative and qualitative indicators (number, height structure, occurrence, vital state) are determined for each structural element of the phytocenosis. We reveal the peculiarities of the species composition changes of the lower storey vegetation over a 16-year period. The patterns of development in the grass and shrub layer composition at a distance from hiking trails and roads are found. The analysis is performed using the Jaccard's coefficient of community. The species composition of the live ground cover is different in the objects of the study. The experimental sites remote from the main walking routes have the uniform distribution of grass and shrub species. This fact is proved using the Shennikov’s coefficient of species dispersion. The young generation of the main species is represented by pine, spruce and birch with the predominance of small (up to 0.5 m) undergrowth. The softwood dying off, a decrease in the number of pine and spruce undergrowth, an insignificant increase in the number of understory, the appearance of seedling growth of oak and maple under the canopy of pine and birch stands in the amount of 60...200 specimens/ha are observed. Mountain ash, buckthorn, arrowwood, cherry in abundance of up to 400 specimens/ha are noted in understory of all experimental plots. The obtained results demonstrate the grass and shrub layer as the most vulnerable structural element of park phytocoenoses. Depending on the intensity of recreation (removal of the experimental site from the main recreation route of citizens), the number of extinct species of herbaceous plants over a 16-year period varies from 3 to 6, and the appearance of 1?3 new species is marked. The authors make a conclusion about the significant influence of visitors on the composition, structure and condition of live ground cover, undergrowth and understory.


A.V. Gryaz'kin1, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor
A.A. Kochkin1, Postgraduate Student
V.V. Petrik2, Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, Professor


1Saint Petersburg State Forest Technical University under name of S.M. Kirov, Institutskiy per., 5, Saint Petersburg, 194021, Russian Federation; e-mail:
2Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M.V. Lomonosov, Naberezhnaya Severnoy Dviny, 17, Arkhangelsk, 163002, Russian Federation; е-mail:


park phytocenosis, live ground cover, undergrowth, understory, anthropogenic impact, dynamics in species composition

For citation

Gryaz’kin A.V., Kochkin A.A., Petrik V.V. Dynamics of Understory Vegetation Structure in the Park Phytocenosis. Lesnoy zhurnal [Forestry journal], 2017, no. 6, pp. 46–55. DOI: 10.17238/issn0536-1036.2017.6.46


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Received on June 12, 2017

Dynamics of Understory Vegetation Structure in the Park Phytocenosis


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