Figure 4.3. Norway spruce trees and forests in the eastern Carpathians (photo A. Boratynski)

Upper montane forests/mountain pastures zone in the Hrynyavska Polonina (A, B) and Gorgamy (C) mountains, Poland; Spruce colonize abandoned pastures (B); D-F, monotypic spruce forests in the Gorgany mountains at elevations of 1100-1300 m

Figure 4.4. Upper forest tree line in the Karkonosze mountains (Sudety Mts.) (photo A. Boratynski)

A - forest tree line on the northern slopes of Czarny Grzbiet; B - influence of temperature inversion on the patterning of the upper forest tree limits on the slopes of the Lomniczka glacial cirque

Figure 4.5. Norway spruce at the climatic mountain tree line in the Karkonosze (Sudety Mts.) (photo A. Boratynski)

A - degeneration of an old stand with regeneration; B-C - bio-groups of spruces at the forest tree line; D - dead and dying spruce at the forest tree line; E - an individual spruce at the forest tree line with typical crown damage

Figure 4.6. Spruce above the upper forest line in the Karkonosze mountains (Sudety Mts.) (photo A. Boratynski)

A-C - about 100 m above the tree line; D-F - about 200-300 m above the tree line

Carpathian range it may occur on both upland and lowland sites. Both portions of the species range are connected, mainly in Poland, but also partly in Byelorussia (Fig. 4.2).

Altitudinal range

At its northern arctic range limit, P. abies may be found at altitudes as low as sea level. Overall, the upper altitudinal limit of the species is inversely correlated with latitude (PEARSON'S correlation coefficient r=-0.95, Fig. 4.2). The species attains an altitude of about 400 m in northern Finland and in the Khibiny Mts on the Kola Peninsula at a latitude of 67o50'N. The altitudinal limit increases to 940 m in southern Norway at latitude of about 60o and to 1000 m at 59o50'N (SCHMIDT-VOGT 1977). The altitudinal range of the Picea abies subsp. abies in central Europe is linked to local climate conditions and physiography. The species forms a tree line (Figs 4.4 and 4.5) only in the highest mountain ranges (Table 3). The occurrence of high altitude stands is modified by local conditions, including slope, aspect, and parent material. The highest stands in the Central-European mountain ranges occur in the most extensive mountain ranges and west-facing slopes (ZIENTARSKI 1985).

Table 3. Norway spruce stands in the countries of Europe

Country (year)

Area hectares

Total forest area %


Bulgaria (2000)


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