Woody and Grassy Vegetation Development in Different Landscape Elements of the Curonian Spit
Keywords: Curonian spit seashore, dune woody and grassy plant species, landscape change
AbstractThe species of woody and grassy vegetation grow on the seashore sands and wastes. These plants are adapted for less favorable existence conditions, some of them growing in littoral habitats of excessive moisture and salinity, the others tolerate infertile and dry sand. The aim of this study has been to analyze the dispersion of vegetation in different relief elements of the coastal protective dunes, to search for relation between woody and grassy plant species, and to foresee the tendencies of further seashore landscape development. It has been established that in the locations of an intensive flow of visitors a net of trodden paths is formed where the plants cover is disappearing very fast as there are suitable conditions for the spring and autumn winds to erode the coastal protective dune of the seashore of the Curonian spit. In a couple of years a trodden path turns into sand drifting corridors of 2 - 3 m. wide, and the trodden and lain places by holiday makers extend to 4 - 5 m. wide pits and hollows. After interconnection of these formations they shape different size deflations. The drifting sand carried by the prevailing western direction winds swamp the plains beyond coastal dunes and the outskirts of the forest and sandy meadows. The statistical analysis of the plant projection cover shows that during the last 27 years (from 1982) the conditions for vegetation survival on the Curonian spit seashore sand dunes are gradually deteriorating.
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