Influence of overstory density on understory light, soil moisture, and survival of two underplanted oak species in a Mediterranean montane Scots pine forest
AbstractInformation of tree-nurse shelterwood effects on survival of underplanted seedlings is particularly scant in Mediterranean forest ecosystems. To study light and water resources availability and survival associated to overstory density, two-year-old seedlings of Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl. (sessile oak) and Quercus pyrenaica Willd. (pyrenean oak) were planted in the understory of an even-aged Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) plantation located in central Spain, which had been previously assigned to three density treatments: uncut, 33% thinned and 50% thinned of the original density, each replicated four times. Soil moisture was measured with a TDR during the first growing season after planting. Light conditions were estimated by hemispherical photography. Survival was measured at the end of the first growing season in the field and at the beginning of the next two growing seasons. The reduction in density after thinning had a positive effect on light availability and on near-surface soil moisture. Pyrenean oak had higher survival rates than sessile oak, which showed similarly high mortality rates in all three overstory treatments. Thinning had a positive effect on the survival of pyrenean oak, though irrespective of the intensity. Overall, these results point to the necessity to reduce canopy tree density in Mediterranean mountain pinewoods before carrying out enrichment plantations beneath.
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