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Seedling morphological characteristics and seasonal growth of indigenous tree species transplanted into four plantations in South China

Research paper by Jun Wang, Hai Ren, Long Yang, Nan Liu

Indexed on: 17 Jun '12Published on: 17 Jun '12Published in: Landscape and Ecological Engineering



Abstract

The successful transplantation of indigenous tree seedlings into established plantations requires an understanding of the conditions required by the seedlings. We evaluated seedling morphological characteristics and seasonal growth of three indigenous tree species (Castanopsis chinensis, Michelia chapensis, and Psychotria rubra) that were transplanted into four plantations (eucalyptus, mixed-native, mixed-legume, mixed-conifer) in South China; in each plantation, two treatments (understory vegetation and litter retained or removed) were applied before the seedlings were transplanted. Seedling leaf morphological characteristics and biomass allocation were determined at the end of the experiment, and seedling relative growth rate as indicated by change in height (RGRh) was determined during the experiment. Whether understory vegetation and litter were removed or retained, RGRh tended to be higher in the wet season than in the dry season. Leaf morphological characteristics and biomass allocation were significantly affected by species identity. The effect of the understory vegetation and litter treatments on seedling morphological characteristics such as specific leaf area, leaf area ratio, and root weight to total biomass ratio depended on species identity. Redundancy analysis showed that the three transplanted indigenous species differed in their responses to light conditions according to their tolerance to shade, and also differed in their responses to soil physical and chemical properties. Based on seedling seasonal growth patterns and morphological responses, we suggest that forest managers attempting to introduce seedlings of indigenous tree species should artificially supply water to increase seedling growth in the dry season. Also, the introduced tree species should be selected depending on the nature of the plantation; for example, C. chinensis and M. chapensis seedlings can be transplanted into mixed-legume plantations. Additionally, fertilizer with potassium and nitrogen should be used to improve seedling performance.