The influence of thinning on rainfall interception by Pinus pinea L. in Mediterranean coastal stands (Castel Fusano—Rome)
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This research was conducted in a 62-year-old stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) forest within the National Natural Reserve of the Roman Coast, Italy. Net under-canopy precipitation was measured between September 2004 and December 2008 in a unthinned and a thinned area of about 1 ha each.
The goals were to document and compare net under-canopy rainfall (throughfall and stemflow) in thinned and unthinned stands, and evaluate how the re-growth of tree crowns following thinning influences canopy interception.
Thinning was carried out during the winter of 2002 and reduced the number of trees by 56% and leaf area index (LAI) by 63%. Rainfall, throughfall, and stemflow were measured and analysed.
Interception loss averaged 23% and 40% in the thinned and unthinned areas respectively, but difference decreased during larger rainfall events. Net under-canopy precipitation was always higher (P < 0.001) in the thinned area, and showed a significant (P = 0.041) relationship with LAI. Stemflow was very low.
These results highlight the positive effect of thinning, which reduces water loss from precipitation caused by interception of rainfall in Mediterranean forests that have never been thinned. Thinning guarantees a greater flow of water under the canopy, particularly in the driest months and for lower amounts of rainfall, and improves stand growth rates.
KeywordsThinning Rainfall interception Throughfall Mediterranean pinewood Stone pine
This research was funded by the Municipality of Rome project “Management of stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) pinewood within the National Natural Reserve of the Roman Coast” and partially financed by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies project Ri.SELV.ITALIA – 3.1.1 “Management and conservation of stone pine coastal stands”. We are grateful to the Centro di Educazione Ambientale (CEA) of the National Natural Reserve of the Roman coast for collecting throughfall and stemflow data. We wish to thank the technical staff of the Research Centre for Silviculture (CRA-SEL) for their field assistance and collecting data.
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