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Competitive Relations Between Douglas-Fir and Pacific Madrone on Shallow Soils in a Mediterranean Climate

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Abstract:

A large area of Pacific Coast forests is characterized by shallow soil, with negligible rainfall in the growing season. This study explores water-seeking strategy on such a site. We studied availability of bedrock water and its effects on growth and ecophysiology of 11-yr-old planted Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco) and sprouting Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii Pursh). The study was carried out at three regulated densities of madrone sprouts on shallow (<50 cm) residual soils in southwest Oregon. Total bedrock water depleted from March to September, as observed in drill holes by neutron probe, did not differ significantly (P > 0.05) among three densities of madrone. However, cover in plots with the highest density of madrone (1322 sprout clumps/ha) depleted 50 mm of water from the 1.5 m layer by June, whereas vegetation on lower density treatments withdrew 15-28 mm by June, with later withdrawal distributed more uniformly through the growing season. Madrone density significantly affected basal diameter (P ≤ 0.0001) and height growth (P ≤ 0.002) of Douglas-fir. Madrone was consistently taller than Douglas-fir in all plots. The height of 11-yr-old madrone sprout clumps (424-465 cm) did not differ significantly among densities. Madrone leaf area index and biomass were higher at the high density of madrone than at medium density (P ≤ 0.045, LAI; P ≤ 0.001, biomass). Physiological advantages and rooting habits of madrone give it a competitive advantage over Douglas-fir in this area that it might not have if bedrock did not provide the principal water reservoir for summer growth. For. Sci. 41(4):744-757.

Keywords: Soil water; bedrock; roots; soil density; water relations

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Silvicultural Scientist, USDI Bureau of Land Management Forestry Research Unit, and Professor, Department of Forest Resources

Publication date: November 1, 1995

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
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