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Folder Lichen, bryophyte and vascular plant species diversity in forests

Data about the richness of flora and fauna of Latvian forests is very heterogeneous, and the level of research of different organism groups greatly differ both in Latvia as a whole and in forest habitats.
Studies of species diversity in Latvian forests are not published up to now. Only fragmentary data is available and concerns separate plant and animal groups. Quite large information is available on vascular plant flora. Analysis of parcial flora (ecologically uniform areas - ecotope) was carried out in many protected nature areas (Gavrilova, Laiviņs, 1992; Bambe, 2001 etc.), occurrence of vascular plant species in the forest types was studied by K. Buss (1964). There are several studies about bryophyte occurrence in different habitat types (Āboliņa, 2001; Bambe, Lārmanis, 2001; A. Āboliņa, (not published.) etc.).


Lichens

In Latvian forests, over 304 lichen species occur that is about 60.3 % of the total lichen flora of Latvia. Among them, 160 species belong to crustose lichens, 55 to leaf lichens and 89 species to fruticose lichens. The largest lichen species number concentrates in 10 families. These must be considered as more polymorphic - dominating lichen species in Latvian forest flora. These families include 223 species that comprises 73.4 % of the total lichen species number found in the forests. Only 81 species belong to the other families that is 26.6 % of the total species number.
In Latvian forests, 47 lichen species occur that are included in the List of Protected Plant Species according to the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers. It is an important part of all protected lichen species (84.0 %). Among them, 25 species are included in the Red Data Book of Latvia.


Bryophytes

In Latvian forest habitats, 298 bryophyte species occur (58% of the total species number of Latvian bryophyte flora) and include species from 120 genus and 52 families.
In the list of the EU Directives and 6th Resolution of Bern Convention 3 bryophyte species occurring in Latvian forests are included:

Buxbaumia viridis (Moug. ex Lam. et DC) Brid.ex Moug. et Nestl.
Dicranum viride (Sull. et Lesq.) Lindb.
Plagiomnium drummondii (B. et S.) T.Kop.

In Appendix V of the EU Directives (plant and animal species that are of community interest and whose picking and exploitation in nature can be allowed) one species that grows in Latvian forests is included:

Leucobryum glaucum (Hedw.) Ångstr.

Vascular plants

Latvian forests provide a habitat for 656 vascular plant species from 79 families and 305 genus. It comprises 40% of the total vascular plant number in Latvian flora. It must be mentioned that from the total number of species growing in forests foreign species (adventive species and garden escapers) comprise only 5 %, but in Latvian flora their density is much higher - about 30%. Concerning the local (autohtone) species, forest significance is even higher - it is the habitat for 51% of autohtone species.

In forests, the richest is Rosaceae family that in the whole Latvian flora is only on the third place. The species richest family of Latvian flora - Poaceae family and Compositae family in the forest flora is on the third and fourth positions. Several families, like Aspidiaceae syn. Dryopteridaceae, Pyrolaceae occur only in forests, but for 80% species of Violaceae, Ericaceae, Campanulaceae, Lycopodiaceae, Orchidaceae, Caprifoliaceae forests are the most suitable habitat.

Forests are very important for the protection of Latvian rare and protected plant species. In forests, 111 especially protected plant species (51% of all protected species) and 143 Latvian Red Data Book species occur. Only about a half (46%) of all protected species can be maintained outside forests, but the other species can grow only forests, and in rare cases in habitats that are associated with forests.

From species that are included in international documents, 11 species occur in forests (in total in Latvia there are 21 such species). Both in EU Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora and Bern Convention, such species as Cypripedium calceolus, Pulsatilla patens, Thesium ebracteatum un Neottianthe cucullata are included. In the EU Directive and also 6th Resolution of the Bern Convention also Cinna latifolia, Agrimonia pilosa, Sorbus teodorii and Dianthus arenarius subsp. arenarius are included, but in Bern Convention - Botrychium matricariifolium, B.multifidum and Dracocephalum ruyschiana.