Production and establishment techniques for the restoration of Nothofagus alessandrii, an endangered keystone species in a Mediterranean forest
Ruil (Nothofagus alessandrii) is an endangered keystone species from the Mediterranean climate zone of Chile. Ruil’s fragile state of conservation urges development of restoration programs, but specific protocols for nursery production and field establishment that ensure plant survival are largely unknown. Therefore, we examined the effect on nitrogen (N) fertilization and container size during nursery production in combination with the use of mesh shelters after outplanting on survival and growth during the first growing season in the field. First year outplanting survival of nursery-grown container seedlings was enhanced when seedlings were given nitrogen (N) during nursery production and deployed with mesh tree shelters in the field. The volume of the container had no effect on outplanting survival and growth. Increasing N from zero to 200 mg N L−1 provided sufficient N levels, resulting in increased seedling height, root-collar diameter, shoot biomass, and total seedling N and phosphorous concentrations. Additional N provided by the 400 and 600 mg N L−1 treatments underwent luxury consumption by the seedlings with no further benefits in field performance. Improved growth in the nursery, along with the use of mesh tree shelters after outplanting, especially during the typical summer drought, may be responsible for increased survival during the first growing season. Increasing the performance of nursery-grown ruil seedlings is essential to restoring this endangered, vulnerable, and foundation species within the highly biodiverse, yet seriously threatened endemic Maulino Costero Forest of the Mediterranean climate of central Chile.
Especie forestalNothofagus alessandrii
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