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Ecological interactions between cork oak (Quercus suber L.) and stone pine (Pinus pinea L.): results from a pot experiment

Alexandra Correia, António Galla, Alexandra Nunes, João Pereira

Portuguese cork oak (Quercus suber L.) extended mortality and lack of regeneration have been the drivers of important changes in the traditional cork oak woodlands (savanna-like) montado. The decrease in tree cover fosters the mixture with stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) for pine-nut production providing shelter for oak regeneration. The use of nurse species, namely pines, to help Quercus spp. regeneration is known, but whether cork oak could be favoured by the mixture with stone pine remains a question. A pot experiment with cork oak (Qs) and stone pine (Pp) growing in inter-(Qs×Pp) and intraspecific mixtures (Qs×Qs, Pp×Pp) combinations and in monocultures, was installed in a greenhouse in Lisbon, Portugal. Morphological measurements of above- and belowground biomass components were carried out in 3 harvesting campaigns at 4, 8 and 11 months. Leaf nitrogen content and mycorrhizal symbiotic formations were quantified. During the seedling stage and under comfort water and nutrient conditions, the root growth and morphology of Qs and Pp showed contrasting patterns, suggesting complementary soil exploitation interactions in interspecific mixtures and potential competition in intraspecific mixtures. The mixture of Qs with Pp seems to be advantageous in the first stages of plant growth as Pp develop abundant mycorrhizae symbiosis formations which elicit mycorrhization of Qs plants coexisting in the same pot. This study suggests that stone pine can potentially help in establishing cork oak as seedlings, possibly facilitating nutrient uptake through mycorrhizae. However, complementary field studies are needed.


Forests, Vol. 9, No. 9. (01 September 2018), 534, https://doi.org/10.3390/f9090534 
Key: INRMM:14634508

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