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Seasonal changes in the physiological activity of regeneration under a natural light gradient in a Pinus pinea regular stand

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/2010
JournalForest systems
Journal number3
Volume19
Number of pages14
Pages367-380
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Seasonal courses of chlorophyll a fluorescence, gas exchange parameters and water status, joined to environmental variables, were measured in four age classes of stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) natural regeneration, selected within a natural light gradient in order to cover the whole range of incident light detected within a stone pine regular stand throughout 2007 and 2008. Selection of light conditions was based a priori on the distance of seedlings to the parent trees, expressed by crown radius distances. One-year old seedlings were worse acclimated to the extreme drought conditions recorded in summer (especially in 2008), showing lower predawn and midday Fv/Fm values, slightly lower photosynthetic rates at midday, lower Phi PSII values, lower water potentials (Psi(pd) and Psi(min)), and high mortality (90%). The oldest seedlings (class 4, 51-200 cm high), although they do not experience the lowest Psi(min). in July 2008, were not able to maintain a positive carbon gain at midday, even showing the lowest photosynthetic rates. However, they rapidly recovered once the climatic conditions were softened in early autumn. During late autumn low Fv/Fm values were found especially in one-year old seedlings, indicating that maximal photochemical efficiency of PSII is sensitive to the autumn temperatures below cero recorded during both years. Thus, stone pine regeneration acclimates its physiology to the seasonal course of temperature and water availability, and this acclimation depended on age class. However, seedling physiology is only slightly affected by differences in light environment, probably related to the low variability recorded in GSF values (0.55 +/- 0.01), due to the low density of the stand. We suggest that such low stand densities cannot assure one-year old seedlings' survival, but are sufficient for older seedlings.