Seasonal evolution of water status after outplanting of two provenances of Holm oak nursery seedlings
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Forest restoration programs using Holm oak (Quercus ilex ssp. ballota [Desf.] Samp.) have had limited success. The effect of plant provenance on plantation success is uncertain, although some previous studies suggest that some provenances may be better able to tolerate stress. We studied the tolerance to drought in seedlings from two Spanish provenances of Holm oak before and after outplanting. One provenance was from a continental climate with cold winters (GR) and the other was from a xeric climate (HU). Seedlings were subjected to a water stress test in the nursery during the summer and survival was visually assessed after 2 weeks. In addition, 35 healthy seedlings of each provenance that were not subjected to the water stress tests were used for outplanting experiment. In these plants the seasonal changes in water potential at dawn (Ψ), specific leaf area (SLA), cuticular transpiration (Ec), and loss of xylem hydraulic conductance of twigs (PLC) were measured over 18 months. After the water stress test in summer, mortality was 44.3 % for GR seedlings and 12.6 % for HU seedlings. In addition there were differences between the two provenances in plant water status after planting. The HU provenance had a better water status and was more water conservative in the summer (higher Ψ, lower Ec, lower PLC), but not in the winter. The different drought tolerance and water relations parameters of these two provenances indicate that provenance should be considered in forest restoration and conservation programs involving Holm oak.
KeywordsWater stress Drought Field performance Physiological traits Adaptation
This study was financed by the Ministry of Education and Science (MEC) of Spain (ref. AGL2006-12609-C02-01/FOR) and the Department of Innovation, Science and Business of the Regional Government of Andalusia, Spain (ref. C03-192). Enrique Andivia was benefiting from a doctoral grant from the Ministry of Education of Spain, and Felipe Carevic was benefiting from a doctoral grant from AECI, Spain.
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