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Gayana. Botánica

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6643


PARADA, TERESA  y  LUSK, CHRISTOPHER H.. Patterns of tree seedling mortality in a temperate-mediterranean transition zone forest in Chile. Gayana Bot. [online]. 2011, vol.68, n.2, pp. 236-243. ISSN 0717-6643.

Seedling mortality in forests is the net result of an array of processes that vary spatially and temporally. We quantified emergence and mortality of seedlings at monthly intervals for two years, in a forest situated in the transition zone between the Mediterranean and temperate regions of Chile. We aimed to determine if survival of species responded differentially to seasonal water availability, to the spatial variation in light availability and to seedling density. The commonest species in the seedling bank were the Mediterranean-climate species Cryptocarya alba (61%) and the temperate-climate species Aextoxicon punctatum (29%). 279 of the 504 new seedlings that emerged during the two-year study died during the same period, corresponding to 55,4% mortality. Four of the less common species (Persea lingue, Peumus boldus, Nothofagus obliqua and Luma apiculata) suffered 100 % mortality of new recruits. Mortality of A. punctatum showed a marked seasonal pattern, with high mortality during the dry summer months. In contrast, mortality of the Mediterranean-climate species C. alba was more evenly distributed throughout the year. Multiple regressions showed that light availability had no significant effect on mortality of A. punctatum or C. alba. The same analysis revealed that survival of A. punctatum was negatively affected by conspecific seedling density, but this density-dependent effect was not found for C. alba. Heterospecific density-dependent effects were not found, i.e. mortality of neither species was affected by local density of seedlings of other species. This study shows that spatial and temporal variation in critical factors shapes interspecific variation in seedling mortality in this forest.

Palabras clave : Aextoxicon punctatum; Cryptocarya alba; density-dependent mortality; drought tolerance; shade tolerance.

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