, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 91–98 | Cite as

Radial-growth and wood-anatomical changes in overaged Quercus pyrenaica coppice stands: functional responses in a new Mediterranean landscape

  • Leyre Corcuera
  • J. Julio Camarero
  • Sergio Sisó
  • Eustaquio Gil-PelegrínEmail author
Original Article


Recent land-use changes in intensively managed forests such as Mediterranean coppice stands might profoundly alter their structure and function. We assessed how the abandonment of traditional management practices in coppice stands, which consisted of short cutting-cycles (10–15 years), has caused overaging (stems are usually much older than when they were coppiced) and altered their wood anatomy and hydraulic architecture. We studied the recent changes of wood anatomy, radial growth, and hydraulic architecture in two stands of Quercus pyrenaica, a transitional Mediterranean oak with ring-porous wood forming coppice stands in W–NW Spain. We selected a xeric and a mesic site because of their contrasting climates and disturbance histories. The xeric site experienced an intense defoliation after the severe 1993–1994 summer drought. The mesic site was thinned in late 1994. We studied the temporal variability in width, vessel number and diameter, and predicted the hydraulic conductivities (K h) of earlywood and latewood. In the mesic site, we estimated the vulnerability to xylem cavitation of earlywood vessels. Overaging caused a steep decline in latewood production at a cambial age of 14 years., which was close to the customary cutting cycle of Q. pyrenaica. The diameter distribution of vessels was bimodal, and latewood vessels only accounted for 4% of the K h. Overaging, acting as a predisposing factor in the decline episode, was observed at the xeric site, where most trees did not produce latewood in 1993–1995. At the mesic site, thinned trees formed wider tree-rings, more latewood and multiseriate tree-rings than overaged trees. The growth enhancement remained 8 years after thinning. Most of the hydraulic conductivity in earlywood was lost in a narrow range of potentials, between −2.5 and −3.5 MPa. We have shown how hydraulic conductivity and radial growth are closely related in Q. pyrenaica and how aging modulates this relationship.


Dendroecology Hydraulic conductivity Oak decline Wood anatomy 



This study was supported by 1FD97-0911-C03-01 project and INIA grant to LC. We thank the staff of Moncayo Natural Park (Gob. Aragón) for their help in the field, and G. Montserrat-Martí (IPE, CSIC) for the use of the microtome. LC and JJC acknowledge the financial support of INIA-Gob. Aragón postdoctoral contracts.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leyre Corcuera
    • 1
  • J. Julio Camarero
    • 1
  • Sergio Sisó
    • 1
  • Eustaquio Gil-Pelegrín
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Unidad de Recursos ForestalesCentro de Investigación y Tecnología AgroalimentariaZaragozaSpain

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