The aims of this study were to investigate spatial patterns and temporal changes in understorey vegetation at four forest catchments forming a depositional gradient. Inventories of the bottom and field layers were carried out in the 1990s and repeated after 5–14 years, depending on catchment. It was hypothesized that changes and patterns in ground vegetation would be related to changes and patterns in N and S deposition. The data were analyzed using Ellenberg indices and multivariate methods. All catchments showed temporal changes in species composition. Analyses of the bottom layer were confounded by a change of field staff, but after accounting for this observer effect, differences in species composition between the catchments remained. Within catchments, the changes in species composition were unrelated to N or S deposition. Relationships between environmental factors, expressed as Ellenberg indices, and compositional patterns differed between catchments although Ellenberg indices showed small temporal changes.
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