, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 233–250

Changes in nutrient use efficiency, status and retranslocation in young post-fire regeneration Pinus halepensis in response to sudden N and P input, irrigation and removal of competing vegetation

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00468-004-0374-3

Cite this article as:
Sardans, J., Peñuelas, J. & Rodà, F. Trees (2005) 19: 233. doi:10.1007/s00468-004-0374-3


The capacity of Mediterranean species to adapt to variable nutrient supply levels in a global change context can be a key factor to predict their future capacity to compete and survive in this new scenario. We aimed to investigate the capacity of a typical Mediterranean tree species, Pinus halepensis, to respond to sudden changes in N and P supply in different environmental conditions. We conducted a fertilisation, irrigation and removal of competing vegetation experiment in a calcareous post-fire shrubland with an homogeneous young (5 years old) population of P. halepensis in order to investigate the retranslocation and nutrient status for the principal nutrients (N, P, Mg, K, S, Ca and Fe), and the nutrient use efficiency (NUE) of the most important nutrients linked to photosynthetic capacity (N, P, Mg and K). P fertilisation increased P concentration in needles, P, N, Mg and K retranslocations, and NUE calculated as biomass production per unit of nutrient lost in the litterfall. The P fertilisation was able to increase the aboveground biomasses and P concentration 3 years after P fertiliser application. Those responses to P fertilisation were enhanced by the removal of competing vegetation. The N needle and litterfall concentration decreased after P fertilisation and this effect was greater when the P fertilisation was accompanied by removal of competing vegetation. The increase of P availability decreased the P-NUE and increased the N-NUE when these variables were calculated as aboveground biomass production per unit of P present in the biomass. Both P-NUE and N-NUE increased when calculated as total aboveground production per unit of nutrient loss. The results show that it is necessary to calculate NUE on a different basis to have a wider understanding of nutrient use. The irrigation did not change the needle nutrient concentrations and the litterfall production, but it significantly changed the nutrient litterfall concentrations and total aboveground contents (especially P and K). These results show a high capacity of P. halepensis to quickly respond to a limiting nutrient such as P in the critical phases of post-fire regeneration. The increase in P availability had a positive effect on growth and P concentrations and contents in aboveground biomass, thus increasing the capacity of growth in future periods and avoiding immediate runoff losses and leachate. This capacity also strongly depends on neighbour competition.


MediterraneanCompeting vegetationPinus halepensisNutrient use efficiencyPhosphorus

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unitat d’ecofisiologia CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF (Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Application), Edifici CCampus Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterra (Barcelona)Spain
  2. 2.CREAF (Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Application), Edifici CUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterra (Barcelona)Spain