The forests of urbanised areas provide multiple ecosystem services and are highly dynamic. Determining the trends in species composition changes can help to predict their future capacity to fulfil ecological and resource-maintaining functions. We examined the direction of forest successions in the Northeast Moscow region under the canopy of different tree species. Field data were obtained from 78 permanent test plots monitored for more than a 15-year period; field studies were complemented by archival data. The cluster analysis made it possible to divide all plots into five groups by current species composition and structure and into eight groups by the importance of broadleaved species in the undergrowth. Gradual evolution (cohort dynamics) was found to be typical for middle-aged secondary forests; patch dynamics was described in mature stands of late succession species after non-critical natural disturbances; drastic changes were observed in spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) stands after pest attacks. Two main trends were revealed in species composition shift: restoration of mixed spruce-broadleaved forests and development of lime-dominated broad-leaved forests, the latter being the prevailing one in the stands of composite forest types. Intensive development of oak-associated species is probably related to the climate conditions in the Moscow megacity.
The content of this article may be of interest for researchers studying natural forest dynamics and can be used for prospective planning of target species composition in the forestries of the Moscow region.