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The Native Forest Vegetation of Killarney, South-West Ireland: An Ecological Account

Daniel L. Kelly
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 69, No. 2 (Jul., 1981), pp. 437-472
DOI: 10.2307/2259678
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2259678
Page Count: 36
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The Native Forest Vegetation of Killarney, South-West Ireland: An Ecological Account
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Abstract

(1) This study presents a general account of the native forest vegetation of the Killarney district, the site of one of Ireland's major National Parks. Quantitive floristic data are presented in tabular form; the bryophytes are fully treated, and the floristic accounts are accompanied by a range of edaphic data. (2) The Killarney woods fall naturally into two sectors, along a geological divide. The larger area, on Devonian Old Red Sandstone, supports a relatively homogeneous acidophilous forest-type, dominated by Quercus petraea, and referable to the Blechno-Quercetum Association of Braun-Blanquet & Tuxen (1952). The main gradient in this vegetation is from a relatively species-poor variant in the lower-rainfall woods, to one with a rich and luxuriant bryophyte and epiphyte flora, corresponding to well-developed Blechno-Quercetum scapanietosum sub-association. Accounts are presented of the bryophyte micro-communities on the forest floor, and of the epiphyte communities on Quercus. (3) The forest vegetation on the Carboniferous Limestone is described for the first time. The unique moss-rich Taxus baccata forest on limestone outcrops is a facies of the Corylo-Fraxinetum Association (Br.-Bl. et Tx 1952). An account is presented of the epiphytes on Taxus. The `carr' forest, which covers substantial areas of low-lying swampy ground, is also described. (4) A brief account is given of the distribution and ecology of alien plant species in the Killarney woods, in particular the strongly invasive Rhododendron ponticum.

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