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Light and soil humidity influencing oak seedling growth and physiology in mixed hardwood gaps

Author(s): Raddi S | Basile L | Anichini M | Pozzi D | Logli F

Journal: Forest@
ISSN 1824-0119

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 240;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Forest gaps | Natural regeneration | Light environment | Soil humidity | Fluorescence | Oakwood | Quercus robur

In “S. Rossore, Migliarino, Massaciuccoli” Natural Park (Pisa, I) six-month-old pedunculate oak seedlings (Quercus robur L.) were transplanted within natural gaps of a mixed oak forest. Micro-environmental variability for radiation and water soil content were measured for 145 seedlings during the year. Irradiation relative to the open field (IR) ranged from 5% to 57%. Seven classes of IR each with 20 seedlings were selected. Leaf mass per area was strongly influenced by IR. In the first 3 years survival was high (95, 76 and 75%, respectively) and seedling reached 14±6 cm, 27±13 cm and 39±19 (sd) cm of height. Even if IR and soil water content (SWC) were negatively associated, indicating a lower SWC at the centre of the gaps, height and its relative growth rate increased with IR (explored range: 8-40%) with a significant interaction with SWC in the 1st year, indicating the positive effect of soil moisture. In the 3rd year dimensional traits were higher in L+W+ (high light and humidity) followed by L-W+ (low light and high humidity), L+W- and finally by L-W-. Summer drought typical of the Mediterranean climate was evaluated by chlorophyll fluorescence of PSII on apical leaves of seedlings and mature trees at the beginning (21 June) and in mid-summer (20 July). While in June physiological traits did not differ between low and high IR, in mid-summer (at the peak of water-stress) seedlings of the two highest light classes showed chronic photoinhibition (Fv/Fm
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