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Effects of Mineral Soil and Forest Floor on the Regeneration of Pedunculate Oak, Beech and Red Oak

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Forest & Nature Lab, Department of Forest and Water Management, Ghent University, Geraardsbergsesteenweg 267, 9090 Gontrode, Belgium
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Laboratorio de Investigaciones Botánicas (LABIBO), Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Salta-CONICET, Av. Bolivia 5150, 4400 Salta, Argentina
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Department Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
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Terrestrial Ecology Unit (TEREC), Department of Biology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Gent, Belgium
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(2), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9020066
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 25 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 27 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecophysiology and Biology)
Early regeneration is a critical life stage that affects the future species composition of forests. Knowledge about regeneration success under different environmental conditions allows better understanding of forest dynamics. We studied the effects of seedbed conditions on the establishment and performance of seedlings of pedunculate oak, beech and red oak. In 50 plots of a tree-diversity oriented research platform in mature forests in northern Belgium (TREEWEB), we installed a field experiment with three treatments (potting soil, mineral soil, mineral soil + forest floor), in which we sowed seeds of each species. We monitored early establishment and survival, height, root and shoot biomass of the seedlings after two growing seasons. Mineral soil negatively affected seedling establishment and performance relative to the potting soil. The negative soil effects did not vary with measured abiotic soil properties. In general, the forest floor did not deteriorate or mitigate the soil effects, and only for root biomass did the forest floor partly compensate the negative soil effects. Forest floor effects did not vary with the measured forest floor properties. In the studied forests, creating bare soil was not enough to promote regeneration; improving soil properties might be important for the success of natural regeneration. View Full-Text
Keywords: seedling establishment; seedling performance; field experiment; TREEWEB; soil properties; forest floor properties seedling establishment; seedling performance; field experiment; TREEWEB; soil properties; forest floor properties
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De Groote, S.R.E.; Vanhellemont, M.; Baeten, L.; Carón, M.M.; Martel, A.; Bonte, D.; Lens, L.; Verheyen, K. Effects of Mineral Soil and Forest Floor on the Regeneration of Pedunculate Oak, Beech and Red Oak. Forests 2018, 9, 66.

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