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Afforestation method affects the isotopic composition of planted Pinus halepensis in a semiarid region of Spain

AuthorsQuerejeta Mercader, José Ignacio ; González Barberá, Gonzalo ; Granados, Arsenio; Castillo Sánchez, Victor Manuel
KeywordsPinus halepensis
Stable isotopes
Issue Date15-Jan-2008
CitationForest Ecology and Management 254(1): 56-64 (2008)
AbstractWe used an isotopic approach to evaluate the effects of three afforestation methods on the ecophysiology of an Aleppo pine plantation in semiarid Spain. The site preparation methods tested were excavation of planting holes (H), subsoiling (S), and subsoiling with addition of urban solid refuse to soil (S + USR). Five years after plantation establishment, trees in the S + USR treatment were over three times larger than those in the S treatment, and nearly five-fold larger than those planted in holes. Differences in tree biomass per hectare were even greater due to disparities in initial planting density and pine tree mortality among treatments. Pine trees in the S + USR treatment showed higher foliar P concentration, δ13C and δ15N than those in the S or H treatments. Foliar δ15N data proved that trees in the S + USR treatment utilized USR as a source of nitrogen. Foliar δ13C and δ18O data suggest that improved nutrient status differentially stimulated photosynthesis over stomatal conductance in the pine trees of the S + USR treatment, thus enhancing water use efficiency and growth. In the spring of 2002, trees in the S + USR treatment exhibited the most negative predawn water potentials of all the treatments, indicating that the rapid early growth induced by USR accelerated the onset of intense intra-specific competition for water. The results of this study have implications for the establishment and management of Aleppo pine plantations on semiarid soils. Planting seedlings at low density and/or early thinning of pine stands are strongly recommended if fast tree growth is to be maintained beyond the first few years after USR addition to soil. Foliar C, O and N isotope measurements can provide much insight into how resource acquisition by trees is affected by afforestation techniques in pine plantations under dry climatic conditions.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2007.07.026
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