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Seedling recruitment in a semi-arid steppe: The role of microsite and post-dispersal seed predation

AutorGonzález Barberá, Gonzalo ; Navarro-Cano, J. A. ; Castillo Sánchez, Victor Manuel
Palabras claveFacilitation
Rhamnus lycioides
Seed predation
Southeastern spain
Stipa tenacissima
egetation restoration
Fecha de publicación2006
CitaciónJournal of Arid Environments 67(4): 701-714 (2006)
ResumenGrasslands dominated by Stipa tenacissima are important ecosystems in the arid and semiarid climates of western Mediterranean, where they have originated by degradation of open dry forests and shrublands. At present, although the level of exploitation in these ecosystems is very low, succession processes seem to have stopped. In this study, we explore the role of microsite and post-dispersal seed predation on the seedling emergence of two species from advanced successional stages (Rhamnus lycioides, Quercus coccifera), three species from degraded stages (Cistus clusii, Helianthemum violaceum, Anthyllis terniflora), and of the dominant species (Stipa tenacissima). Seeds of these species were sown in plots divided into two microsites: (i) under tussocks of S. tenacissima and (ii) in the bare soil between tussocks. Soil moisture was significantly higher in the tussock microsites. The interaction observed between microsite and time, reflected the slower drying process under tussocks. Seed predation was in general high and differed significantly between species but not between microsites. Q. coccifera was especially affected by predation. The only germination detected in gap areas was that of H. violaceum. The results pointed to a direct facilitative effect of tussock grass on the germination in R. lycioides (20.4±8.0%) and S. tenacissima (41.3±5.7%) while the corresponding figures for bare ground were 0%. These results suggest that the recovery of potential vegetation in this ecosystem is not possible or, at least, is very slow because the residual shrub patches do not generate a sufficient number of seeds able to disperse to favorable germination microsites. S. tenacissima may act as facilitator of seedling recruitment if there is a supply of diaspores.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2006.03.019
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