Species-mediated soil moisture availability and patchy establishment of Pseudotsuga menziesii in chaparral
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- Dunne, J. & Parker, V. Oecologia (1999) 119: 36. doi:10.1007/s004420050758
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The occurrence of mature individuals of Pseudotsuga menziesii in stands of Arctostaphylos species mark the initial stages of mixed evergreen forest invasion into chaparral in central coastal California. We planted two cohorts of P. menziesii seeds at three sites under stands of two Arctostaphylos species and Adenostoma fasciculatum in order to determine whether first-year seedling emergence and survival, particularly during the regular summer drought, underlie the spatial distribution of mature trees observed in chaparral. Regardless of the chaparral species they were planted under, P. menziesii seeds that were not protected from vertebrate predation displayed very little emergence and no survival. In contrast, emergence of P. menziesii that were protected from vertebrate predators was much higher but still did not significantly differ among the three chaparral species. However, survival of protected seedlings under Arctostaphylos glandulosa was much greater than under A. fasciculatum, with intermediate survival under Arctostaphylos montana. While mortality of protected seedlings due to insect herbivory, fungal infection, and disturbance displayed no consistent patterns, summer drought mortality appeared to drive the patterns of survival of P. menziesii under the different chaparral species. These emergence, mortality, and survival data suggest that spatial patterns of P. menziesii recruitment in chaparral are driven by first-year summer drought seedling mortality, but only in years when seeds and seedlings are released from vertebrate predation pressure. Because the first-year drought mortality and survival patterns of P. menziesii seedlings differed strongly depending on the chaparral species, we examined the additional hypothesis that these patterns are associated with differences in the availability of soil moisture under different chaparral species. Both higher survival and lower drought mortality of P. menziesii seedlings were associated with higher soil water potential under Arctostaphylos stands during the summer drought, especially in the subsurface soil. The data suggest that Arctostaphylos stands, particularly stands of A. glandulosa, ameliorate xeric summer conditions to a degree that facilitates first-year establishment of P. menziesii and strongly influences spatial distribution of mature trees.