Response to natural and simulated browsing of two Mediterranean oaks with contrasting leaf habit after a wildfire

Espelta J.M., Habrouk A., Retana J. (2006) Response to natural and simulated browsing of two Mediterranean oaks with contrasting leaf habit after a wildfire. Annals of Forest Science. 63: 441-447.
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Doi: 10.1051/forest:2006024

Resum:

In this study, we explore the response to browsing of two co-occurring Mediterranean oaks, the evergreen Quercus ilex and the deciduous Quercus cerrioides, resprouting in areas affected by large wildfires in central Catalonia (NE Spain). We tested three hypotheses: (i) differences in the preference of browsers will cause a higher impact of browsing on the deciduous oak, (ii) the deciduous oak will show a lower response to browsing than the evergreen one, and (iii) the response to browsing of Q. ilex and Q. cerrioides will differ depending on the season of the year when browsing occurs. To test the first hypothesis, we undertook the monitoring of the degree of browsing on resprouting evergreen and deciduous oaks after fire, while the second and third hypothesis were tested by mean of an experiment with different intensities of simulated browsing in different seasons of the year. The results indicate that Q. cerrioides individuals were more heavily browsed than Q. ilex ones. Moreover, browsing matched the two species in most of the size variables considered, cancelling the advantage in height and crown projection of the deciduous oak at the beginning of the resprouting process. In the experiment of simulated browsing, Q. ilex and Q. cerrioides showed a similar response to the different intensities of simulated browsing applied, but differences between species occurred depending on the season of the year when browsing occurred: Q. ilex showed a higher growth rate of crown projection than Q. cerrioides when it was browsed in autumn and winter, while the opposite pattern was obtained when stumps browsing occurred in spring and summer. © INRA, EDP Sciences, 2006.

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