Nursery fertilization enhances survival and physiological status in Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis) seedlings planted in a semiarid environment uri icon

abstract

  • We tested the hypothesis that fertilized containerized Pinus canariensis seedlings increases survival when planted in semiarid sites through the improvement of their physiological status during the establishment phase by an increment in root growth. Seedlings were cultured under two different regimes: traditional (in non-fertilized natural soil) and alternative (in fertilized peat). Morphological attributes and nitrogen content were measured before planting. Measurements of survival and growth in the plantation were made periodically for 2 years and physiological plant responses (leaf water potential, gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence) during the third summer after planting were tested and finally a set of plants were excavated to measure the same parameters as before planting. Seedlings cultivated using fertilized peat achieved the highest values for all of evaluated parameters. During the third dry season, big seedlings exhibited better physiological status. Therefore, enhanced root growth can result in better water uptake during the dry period thereby increasing survival and growth in the next few years after planting. A feed-back physiological model is proposed to explain P. canariensis establishment in a semiarid environment.

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009