, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 644–660 | Cite as

Large-Scale Patterns of Quercus ilex, Quercus suber, and Quercus pyrenaica Regeneration in Central-Western Spain

  • Tobias PlieningerEmail author
  • Víctor Rolo
  • Gerardo Moreno


In Central-Western Spain, forests and woodlands composed of Quercus sp. support outstanding levels of biodiversity, but there is increasing concern about their long-term persistence due to a lack of regeneration. We hypothesize that this regenerative lack is operating on a large geographic scale; that there are differences in the abundance of regeneration between three oak species; that oak regeneration is governed mainly by forest management and structure; and that shrubs act as important physical protectors of seedlings and saplings. We analyzed whether densities of oak seedlings and saplings in several size classes were related to stand-structure, understory, and physiographic variables potentially affecting regeneration. Data collected at a regional level (1 km × 1 km grid) by the Spanish Forest Inventory were evaluated from 2,816 plots. Results revealed that regeneration failure was common for all size categories, from small seedlings to large saplings, and for the three oak species studied, especially the evergreens. Of the Quercus ilex, Q. suber, and Q. pyrenaica plots studied, 49%, 62%, and 20% were lacking any small seedlings, and 82%, 96%, and 56% did not have any large saplings, respectively. Regeneration was positively correlated with tree cover and density, especially of small and medium-sized trees, and negatively correlated with the presence of large trees, indicating that regeneration failure is mostly associated with more open, uniform, and/or aged woodlands. Regeneration densities of Q. ilex and Q. suber were positively correlated with all understory variables, suggesting that the presence of pioneer shrubs represent a major safe site for early tree recruitment, independent from specific shrub species.


dehesa logistic regression large-scale survey Mediterranean forest sapling recruitment seedling establishment shrub encroachment shrub facilitation stand dynamics tree demography 



We thank Fernando J. Pulido, Mario Díaz, and three anonymous referees for reviewing an earlier version of the manuscript. We also thank Chris Hank for improving the language of this paper. TP’s contribution was funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (FKZ 01UU0904A). VR was awarded a grant from the Regional Government of Extremadura. GM’s contribution was funded by the Spanish Research Program (AGL2006-09435).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 55 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Plieninger
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Víctor Rolo
    • 3
  • Gerardo Moreno
    • 3
  1. 1.Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Ecosystem Services Research GroupBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Geography DepartmentHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Forestry SchoolUniversity of ExtremaduraPlasenciaSpain

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