Weather as main driver for masting and stem growth variation in stone pine supports compatible timber and nut co-production

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Shestakova, Tatiana A.Shestakova, Tatiana A. - ORCID ID
Mutke, Sven
Gordo, Javier
Camarero Martínez, Jesús Julio
Sin Casas, EstherSin Casas, Esther - ORCID ID
Pemán García, JesúsPemán García, Jesús - ORCID ID
Voltas Velasco, JordiVoltas Velasco, Jordi - ORCID ID
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cc-by-nc-nd (c) Elsevier, 2020
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Trade-offs between life-history traits are common in plants, and those involving growth and reproduction may be evident during mast years. The nutlike seeds of the stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) stand out among the most appreciated Mediterranean forest products, but its lengthy reproductive cycle makes the identification of masting mechanisms challenging. In the Spanish Northern Plateau, stone pine woodlands are managed as multifunctional forests. Here, we investigated whether timber and nut production are compatible goals in the region. Temporal ring-width and cone yield patterns were characterised in five monospecific stands since 1960. At tree level, we found an equivalent allocation of resources to reproductive and non-reproductive (aboveground) biomass for an average year, but harvest index exceeded 80% during mast years. These large yields, however, did not impose a penalty on aboveground biomass increment. Regionally, we reported a slightly larger magnitude of high- frequency synchronous growth (â = 0.50) compared with that of reproduction (â = 0.42), which is important to contextualise the ecological and economical relevance of masting for the species. By investigating growth-yield interannual dynamics, we found that both traits were strongly and positively correlated, although with a 3-year lag. Therefore, years favouring a high growth coincided with large conelet emergences leading to abundant seed rains to occur three years later, which pointed to key environmental drivers common to both traits. Actually, radial growth and reproduction partly responded to the same climate factors, with climate three years before seed rain being related to masting in a similar way as it was related to ring-width of this same year. Our results provide evidence for the proposed link between masting and growth, and suggest that resources are not diverted from growth during cone filling in stone pine. We conclude that timber production and nut production are perfectly compatible in this species.
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Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 2021, vol. 298-299, 108287