Relative size to resprouters determines post-fire recruitment of non-serotinous pines
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The persistence of non-serotinous pines in Mediterranean forests can be threatened by climate-mediated changes in fire regimes that may favor the dominance of resprouters or other fire-adapted species. Recovery of non-serotinous pines after large wildfires is often determined by their ability to grow
under the canopy of promptly established resprouters. Mechanisms of facilitation or competition between resprouters and pines will thus have a profound effect on forest dynamics. We examined here the effect of neighboring oak resprouts on Pinus nigra Arn. ssp. salzmannii saplings 18 years after a wildfire. We determined the net outcome of interactions between oaks and pines and how they vary with the life stage and size of the interacting plants or the environmental conditions. We did not find any net facilitative effects of oaks on pine sapling growth. The sensitivity of pines to neighbors varied markedly with pine size, and to a lesser extent, with water availability during the growing season. Our findings suggest a self-reinforcing hierarchical process by which early-dispersed seedlings growing in low-competitive microsites can grow faster, mitigating neighboring competition in the later stage of canopy closure. These results entail a potentially critical role of management practices to promote post-fire recovery of non-serotinous pines under expected changing conditions of disturbance regimes.
Is part ofForest Ecology and Management, 2018, vol. 429, p. 300-307
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