Annals of Forest Science

, 68:575 | Cite as

Is selective thinning an adequate practice for adapting Quercus ilex coppices to climate change?

  • Jesús Rodríguez-CalcerradaEmail author
  • Ignacio M. Pérez-Ramos
  • Jean-Marc Ourcival
  • Jean-Marc Limousin
  • Richard Joffre
  • Serge Rambal
Original Paper



Future climatic scenarios demand an increasing involvement of management for forest preservation, but little is known on how forestry practices will benefit stands in facing variation of climatic components.


We investigated how selective thinning affected the response of an old Quercus ilex coppice to 6 years of throughfall reduction. Plots thinned from below (≈30% basal area removal) and unthinned plots were subject to either throughfall exclusion (TE; ≈33% throughfall reduction) or normal rainfall. Stem diameter growth, stem survival, and seed and sprout production were measured.


TE did not have a significant effect on stem growth but it reduced the production of viable acorns. Also, in the absence of thinning, TE accelerated the mortality of small stems and stimulated the emergence of new sprouts. Thinning reduced stem mortality, enhanced growth of residual stems, and caused a profuse emission of resprouts. Thinning also increased total seed production, but the crop had a large proportion of aborted seeds, especially in those areas subject to TE.


The mere elimination of suppressed and diseased stems in abandoned Q. ilex coppice stands helps remaining trees to cope with current and future (probably longer and more intense) droughts. Potentially drier conditions might attenuate the success of thinning in producing a viable seed crop.


Stem growth Seed production Sprouting Drought Forest adaptation strategy 



J. R-C and I.M. P-R were supported by postdoctoral fellowships from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. We are grateful to Raquel Rodríguez for assistance in the field and to Laurent Misson for constructive comments on a previous version of the manuscript. This work was supported by the European project MIND (EVK2-CT-2002-000158).

Supplementary material

13595_2011_50_MOESM1_ESM.doc (622 kb)
Supplementary Figure S1 Experimental throughfall exclusion system and seed traps in one of the thinned subplots. We note the profuse development of resprouts (DOC 622 kb)
13595_2011_50_MOESM2_ESM.doc (614 kb)
Supplementary Figure S2 A 67-year-old Q. ilex clump thinned to one stem with a vigorous resprout emerging from one of the stumps (on its right side) (DOC 614 kb)
13595_2011_50_MOESM3_ESM.doc (45 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 Structural characteristics of thinning × throughfall exclusion subplots before application of treatments (winter 2002/2003) and 1, 3, and 6 years afterwards. Treatments are: UC = no thinning and no throughfall exclusion; TC = thinning and no throughfall exclusion; UE = no thinning and throughfall exclusion; and TE = thinning and throughfall exclusion. Variables are referred to living stems: N = stem density; D g = quadratic mean diameter; BA = basal area; and AB = above-ground biomass. Capital letters separate significantly different treatments within a year and small letters separate significantly different years within a treatment after Tukey’s HSD tests (n = 3) (DOC 45 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jesús Rodríguez-Calcerrada
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ignacio M. Pérez-Ramos
    • 1
  • Jean-Marc Ourcival
    • 1
  • Jean-Marc Limousin
    • 1
  • Richard Joffre
    • 1
  • Serge Rambal
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et EvolutiveMontpellier Cedex 5France

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