Dominant drivers of plant community assembly vary by soil type and time in reclaimed forests.
Information on plant community assembly mechanisms is limited on forest reclamation sites after mining in the Canadian boreal forest. We assessed the change in plant community composition after Year 2 and Year 5 on species-rich forest floor mineral mix (FFMM) and species-poor peat mineral mix (PMM) reclamation soils by examining assembly mechanisms, i.e., seed bank, seed rain, biotic dispersal, vegetative expansion, and competition. Initial plant cover and diversity were greater on FFMM due to non-native species originating from the seed bank, which had 5× more seeds in the FFMM. By Year 5, both soil types had approximately 40% cover and 80 species richness due to the addition of wind and biotic-dispersed species and were characterized by a shift towards native species. Native forbs using vegetative reproduction expanded up to 2 m from FFMM into PMM. At Year 5 competition does not seem to have a large role in the structuring of the vegetation community. Overall, multiple factors were involved in structuring plant communities on reclamation sites, but we observed a general convergence between plant communities on different soil types in a relatively short period of time.