The impact of Pinus halepensis mill. afforestation on mediterranean spontaneous vegetation: do soil treatment and canopy cover matter?

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We investigated central Mediterranean Pinus halepensis plantations under semi-arid climate in order to evaluate the combined effect of soil treatment and afforestation practices on spontaneous plant species composition, richness and evenness, and on the trend and speed of vegetation dynamics. Phytosociological relevés of three different plot typologies, i.e. (1) soil-treatment and plantation, (2) only soil-treatment, (3) no soil-treatment and no plantation, were compared by (a) multivariate analysis and (b) with reference to species richness and evenness. Moreover, in order to compare vegetation dynamics within the plantations with those ones ongoing in semi-natural garrigue communities, we compared life form and syntaxonomic spectra between phytosociological relevés taken at 8 years of distance. DCA showed that floristic species composition and similarity are influenced by the canopy cover of Pine trees as well as by soil-treatment practices. Although species richness and evenness are not clearly related to neither soil treatment nor Pine afforestation, canopy cover clearly plays a major role: in fact, the highest Ph cover rates correspond to the lowest values of understory species richness. This is true also if only species of biogeographical/conservation interest are considered. Regarding vegetation dynamics, sites with dense Pine canopy cover evolve much slower than the adjacent garrigue communities. The same factors invoqued to explain the patterns of floristic composition and similarity (i.e. allelopathy and competition for light, water and nutrients) may also explain the lowering of diversity of therophytes and the strong decline of the cover perfomed by both therophytes and hemicryptophytes underneath the canopy of dense Ph plantations. Thus, in sites where Ph cover exceeds about 80%, thinning is recommended not only in order to accelerate succession, but also to give a natural ‘shape’ to afforestations.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)517-528
Numero di pagine12
RivistaJournal of Forestry Research
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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