Article

Plant Ecology

, Volume 138, Issue 1, pp 17-26

First online:

Seed germination and seedling performance of two Mediterranean tree species, holm oak (shape Quercus ilex L.) and Aleppo pine (shape Pinus halepensis Mill.): a multifactor experimental approach

  • Maria José Broncano
  • , Miquel Riba
  • , Javier Retana

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Abstract

A two-level multifactor experimental approach was used to compare seed germination and seedling performance of two Mediterranean tree species: the early successional Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.) and the late successional holm oak (Quercus ilex L.). In a first experiment germination rate was evaluated under the combined effects of shade, nitrogen availability, and pine or holm oak leaf litter. In a second experiment we tested for the effects of shade, nutrient availability, and litter type on seedling survival, growth and biomass allocation. Holm oak showed higher germination rates under shaded than under unshaded conditions, while Aleppo pine showed no differences between shaded and unshaded conditions. Nitrogen availability and litter type had no significant effect on germination of either species. Both species showed increased RGR, but also higher mortality rates, when grown in an enriched nutrient environment. While Aleppo pine showed no differences in RGR and mortality rate under different shading levels, RGR decreased and mortality increased for holm oak in full light. Increased radiation decreased LAR, SLA and height:diameter ratio, and increased RWR and R/S in both species, although Aleppo pine showed more pronounced changes. Unlike Aleppo pine, holm oak responded to increased nutrient availability by decreasing R/S and increasing LAR. From these results, no seed-seedling conflicts were found in either species, but a trade-off does seem to exist for holm oak between biomass allocation traits deployed in response to increased nutrient availability and radiation. Aleppo pine outperformed holm oak under most environmental conditions tested and showed a wider regeneration niche.

Mediterranean tree species Physical environment Regeneration niche Seed germination Seedling growth Seedling survival