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1 April 2005 Canopy vs. soil effects of shrubs facilitating tree seedlings in Mediterranean montane ecosystems
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Abstract
Question Is the facilitative effect of nurse shrubs on early recruitment of trees mediated by a ‘canopy effect’ (microclimate amelioration and protection from herbivores), a ‘soil effect’ (modification of soil properties), or both?Location: Two successional montane shrublands at the Sierra Nevada Protected Area, SE Spain.Method: Seedlings of Quercus and Pinus species were planted in four experimental treatments: (1) under shrubs; (2) in open interspaces without vegetation; (3) under shrubs where the canopies were removed; (4) in open interspaces but covering seedlings with branches, mimicking a shrub canopy.Results: Both effects benefited seedling performance. However, microclimatic amelioration due to canopy shading had the strongest effect, which was particularly pronounced in the drier site. Below-ground, shrubs did not modify soil physical characteristics, organic matter, total N and P, or water content, but significantly increased available K, which has been shown to improve seedling water-use efficiency under drought conditions.Conclusions: We propose that in Mediterranean montane ecosystems, characterised by a severe summer drought, pioneer shrubs represent a major safe site for tree early recruitment during secondary succession, improving seedling survival during summer by the modification of both the above- and below-ground environment.Nomenclature: Castroviejo et al. (1986–2001) for Quercus and Pinus species, and Molero-Mesa et al. (1992) for shrub species.
Lorena Gómez-Aparicio, Jose M. Gómez, Regino Zamora and Janis L. Boettinger "Canopy vs. soil effects of shrubs facilitating tree seedlings in Mediterranean montane ecosystems," Journal of Vegetation Science 16(2), (1 April 2005). https://doi.org/10.1658/1100-9233(2005)016[0191:CVSEOS]2.0.CO;2
Received: 17 September 2004; Accepted: 7 February 2005; Published: 1 April 2005
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