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Is light the key factor for success of tube shelters in forest restoration plantings under Mediterranean climates?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date30/07/2010
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Journal number5
Volume260
Number of pages8
Pages610-617
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Tube shelters were designed to protect against browsing, but they improve seedling survival in Mediterranean dry climates. Mechanisms for this response, however, are not fully understood and this knowledge can be useful to help design optimal tube shelters for Mediterranean species and climates. Our objective in this study was to determine if the positive effect of tube shelters is due to enhanced growth during the wet season or to reduced light stress during the dry season. we performed two independent experiments. In the first, we assessed root growth during the wet season in two Mediterranean species with contrasting light tolerance (Quercus ilex L and Pious halepensis Mill.) growing in tubes with varying light transmissivity. In the second experiment, we studied the response of a Quercus ilex plantation to different shelter treatments. Root growth during the wet season was reduced with decreasing light transmissivity in the shade intolerant P. halepensis, but not in the shade tolerant Quercus ilex. Survival of Q. ilex shaded by a mesh shelter only during summer was higher than in unsheltered seedlings and similar to the survival in tube and mesh shelters during the whole season. This suggests that shade during the dry period was the main factor explaining survival in this species. This effect could be related to the lower leaf temperature recorded in sheltered seedlings. We conclude that Q. ilex (and perhaps other late successional, shade tolerant Mediterranean species) should be planted in tubes with the currently used light transmissivity because these shelters reduce light stress in summer without impairing root growth in the wet season. However, current tubes impair root growth in P. halepensis (and likely other pioneer, shade intolerant Mediterranean species), so higher transmissivity tubes may be necessary. Optimal transmissivity for tube shelter in Mediterranean climates is species-specific and identifiable as the point that minimizes light stress during summer without impairing root growth in the wet season. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.