The availability of seeds and microsites are limiting factors for many plant species of different vegetation types. We have investigated the existence of such limitations in two habitats, an alpine heath and a subalpine birch forest, where abiotic factors are hypothesized to be the main determining factor of plant species distributions. Both habitats are characterized by a short growing season and cold temperatures, and the alpine heath is also constrained by low productivity. A seed addition experiment including six vascular plants, selected by different functional traits and occurrence, showed that seed limitation was an important factor in these habitats. Removal of the aboveground biomass (controlled disturbance) increased germination only for some species. The effect of reindeer presence was found to be of less importance, probably due to low and varying densities of reindeer. To conclude, we found that seed limitation was the most important factor limiting the distribution of our studied species in the two alpine environments.
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