Environmental Management

, 48:764 | Cite as

Establishment Success of Coexisting Native and Exotic Trees Under an Experimental Gradient of Irradiance and Soil Moisture

  • Noelia González-Muñoz
  • Pilar Castro-Díez
  • Natalia Fierro-Brunnenmeister


The exotic trees Ailanthus altissima, Robinia pseudoacacia, Acer negundo and Elaeagnus angustifolia coexist with the native trees Fraxinus angustifolia and Ulmus minor in river banks of central Spain. Similarly, the exotic trees Acacia dealbata and Eucalyptus globulus co-occur with the natives Quercus pyrenaica and Pinus pinaster in Northwest Spain. We aimed to identify the environmental conditions that favour or hamper the establishment success of these species. In spring 2008, seeds of the studied species were sown under an experimental gradient of light (100, 65, 35, 7% of full sunlight) combined with three levels of soil moisture (mean soil water potential = −0.97, −1.52 and −1.77 MPa.). During the first growing season we monitored seed emergence and seedling survival. We found that the effect of light on the establishment success was stronger than the effect of soil moisture. Both exotic and native species of central Spain showed a good performance under high light, A. negundo being the most shade tolerant. Water shortage diminished E. angustifolia and A. altissima success. Among NW Spain species, A. dealbata and P. pinaster were found to be potential competitors for colonizing high-irradiance scenarios, while Q. pyrenaica and E. globulus were more successful under moderate shade. High soil moisture favoured E. globulus but not A. dealbata establishment. These results contribute to understand some of the factors controlling for spatial segregation between coexisting native and exotic tree species, and can help to take decisions orientated to the control and management of these exotic species.


Emergence Seedling survival Exotic trees Drought tolerance Shade tolerance 



This study was supported by the projects CGL2007-61873/BOS, CGL2010-16388/BOS of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and POII10-0179-4700 of the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha. Noelia González-Muñoz was supported by a grant of the SMSI (FPI fellowship, BES-2008-002457) and by a grant of Alcalá University. We acknowledge Rosendo Elvira and the staff of the Alcalá University Botanical Garden for their support to perform this experiment. We are grateful to the support of the REMEDINAL-2network (Comunidad de Madrid). We also thank Evelyn Beliën for her valuable help with the plant measurements.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 36 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOC 95 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOC 75 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noelia González-Muñoz
    • 1
  • Pilar Castro-Díez
    • 1
  • Natalia Fierro-Brunnenmeister
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EcologyAlcalá UniversityMadridSpain

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