Regeneration patterns of European oak species (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl., Quercus robur L.) in dependence of environment and neighborhood

Peter Annighöfer, Philip Beckschäfer, Torsten Vor, Christian Ammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations

Abstract

Quercus robur L. (pedunculate oak) and Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl. (sessile oak) are two European oak species of great economic and ecological importance. Even though both oaks have wide ecological amplitudes of suitable growing conditions, forests dominated by oaks often fail to regenerate naturally. The regeneration performance of both oak species is assumed to be subject to a variety of variables that interact with one another in complex ways. The novel approach of this research was to study the effect of many ecological variables on the regeneration performance of both oak species together and identify key variables and interactions for different development stages of the oak regeneration on a large scale in the field. For this purpose, overstory and regeneration inventories were conducted in oak dominated forests throughout southern Germany and paired with data on browsing, soil, and light availability. The study was able to verify the assumption that the occurrence of oak regeneration depends on a set of variables and their interactions. Specifically, combinations of site and stand specific variables such as light availability, soil pH and iron content on the one hand, and basal area and species composition of the overstory on the other hand. Also browsing pressure was related to oak abundance. The results also show that the importance of variables and their combinations differs among the development stages of the regeneration. Light availability becomes more important during later development stages, whereas the number of oaks in the overstory is important during early development stages. We conclude that successful natural oak regeneration is more likely to be achieved on sites with lower fertility and requires constantly controlling overstory density. Initially sufficient mature oaks in the overstory should be ensured. In later stages, overstory density should be reduced continuously to meet the increasing light demand of oak seedlings and saplings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0134935
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

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