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Establishing quercus ilex under Mediterranean dry conditions: sowing recalcitrant acorns versus planting seedlings at different depths and tube shelter light transmissions

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>New Forests
Issue number5
Volume46
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)869-883
Publication statusPublished
Early online date17/06/15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Success of Mediterranean dry areas restoration with oaks is a challenging goal. Testing eco-techniques that mimic beneficial effects of natural structures and ameliorate stress contributes to positive solutions to overcoming establishment barriers. We ran a factorial experiment in a dry area, testing two levels of solid wall transmission of tube shelters (60 and 80 %) plus a control mesh, and two depths (shallow and 15 cm depth) of placing either planted seedlings or acorns of Quercus ilex. Microclimate of the planting or sowing spots was characterized by measuring photosynthetically active radiation, temperature and relative humidity. Plant response was evaluated in terms of survival, phenology, acorn emergence and photochemical efficiency (measured through chlorophyll fluorescence). We hypothesize that tube shelters and deep planting improve Q. ilex post-planting and sowing performance because of the combined effects of reducing excessive radiation and improving access to moist soil horizons. Results show that temperature and PAR was reduced, and relative humidity increased, in deep spots. Midsummer photochemical efficiency indicates highest level of stress for oaks in 80 % light transmission shelter. Optimum acorn emergence in spring was registered within solid wall tree shelters, and maximum summer survival of germinants and of planted seedlings occurred when acorns or seedlings were placed at 15 cm depth irrespectively of light transmission of shelter. Survival of germinants was similar to that of planted seedlings. The importance of techniques to keep high levels of viability after sowing recalcitrant seeds in the field is emphasized in the study.