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Growth responses to irradiance regime along an ecological gradient of Quercus castaneifolia seedlings of different provenance

Abstract

Understory light is known as one of the most important environmental predictors of growth response of woody species. Hence, the primary objective of most forest management practices is optimizing that resource for understory seedlings. In this study, growth responses of Quercus castaneifolia seedlings from five different provenances from west to east of the Hyrcanian forest were investigated along their ecological gradients (from high to low precipitation). An experimental design was executed under controlled conditions at eight different irradiance levels (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and 100 % full irradiance). Results showed that the irradiance is probably the most important determinant of variation in seedling characteristics. Among all investigated variables, variability in seedling size was affected significantly by provenance, while seedling morphology and their architectural response was affected by different levels of irradiance in a curvilinear manner. The biggest changes were observed at lowest irradiance levels (10–20 %) while at higher irradiance (70–100 %) the curves flatten. It was shown that, unlike at low irradiance levels, there is little capacity in seedling morphology to acclimatize with high irradiance intensity. Attaining maximal biomass varies across provenances and irradiance gradient. The highest biomass for the five provenances could be ranked as follows: 20–60 % and 50–60 % for the wetter and drier provenances, respectively. These results demonstrated that the light requirement increases from wetter to drier provenances, with a negative relationship between light requirement and precipitation regime. Different responses to irradiance levels may be the result of genetic adaptation to the ecological conditions prevailing in native habitat, especially precipitation regime.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Hamed Asadi for his logistic support, Mehrdad Zarafshar for taking care of the plants, and Soghra Azizi and Sodabeh Gharemahmodli for their help with harvesting. Bahram Naseri is acknowledged for his help in collecting seeds, Sattar Ezatti and Carolina Puerta-Piñero for improving the manuscript, and Ellen Vuosalo Tavakoli (University of Mazandaran) for editing the English text.

Author information

Correspondence to Seyed Gholamali Jalali.

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Cite this article

Babaei Soustani, F., Jalali, S.G., Sohrabi, H. et al. Growth responses to irradiance regime along an ecological gradient of Quercus castaneifolia seedlings of different provenance. Ecol Res 29, 245–255 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-013-1119-9

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Keywords

  • Light requirement
  • Morphological response
  • Temperate Hyrcanian forest
  • Site heterogeneity