Effects of Post-Fire Plant Cover in the Performance of Two Cordilleran Cypress (Austrocedrus chilensis) Seedling Stocktypes Planted in Burned Forests of Northeastern Patagonia, Argentina
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- Urretavizcaya, M.F., Gonda, H.E. & Defossé, G.E. Environmental Management (2017) 59: 419. doi:10.1007/s00267-016-0793-0
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Cordilleran cypress (Austrocedrus chilensis [D.Don] Pic. Serm. et Bizarri) forests occupy 140,000 ha along a sharp environmental gradient of central Andean-Patagonia in Argentina. Every summer, about 3200 ha of these forests are affected by wildfires, taking thereafter long time to recover. To accelerate forest recovery, we determined in xeric and mesic cypress stands burned 5 and 2 year before whether survival and growth of two planted cypress seedling stocktypes are affected by plant cover and contrasting precipitation conditions. Two experiments were conducted on each site, involving 100 replicates of two seedling stocktypes, having each significantly different morphological attributes. The experiments comprised a dry and humid growing season on each site. Both stocktypes performed similarly within stands, but differently between stands. In the xeric stand, plant cover had neutral effects on seedling survival, favored seedling height growth in the dry season, and was negative on collar diameter and stem growth. In the mesic site, high plant cover favored survival and height growth, but was inconsequential for collar diameter and stem growth. In this short-term post-fire period, and independent of precipitation received during both seasons (dry or humid), plant cover appears as playing a facilitative role, having neutral or even positive effects on survival and growth of planted seedlings. During the early post-fire successional stages, and besides seedling stocktype, there was a synergistic balance between light and soil moisture that seems to benefit planted seedling performance in burned cypress forests, and especially in mesic sites.