Sand pine (Pinus clausa) seedling distribution and biomechanics in relation to microsite conditions and proximity to potential nurse plants
Marshall Mattson, KD & Putz, FE 2008, 'Sand pine (Pinus clausa) seedling distribution and biomechanics in relation to microsite conditions and proximity to potential nurse plants', Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 255, no. 11, pp. 3778-3782.
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We investigated the distribution of sand pine (Pinus clausa) seedlings in relation to the locations of hardwoods and palmettos that had resprouted in five recently clear-cut and one burned stand in sand pine scrub vegetation in Ocala National Forest (Florida, USA). We also studied how the shade and mechanical support provided by the taller resprouts affect the allometry and biomechanics of sand pine seedling stems. Although soil surface temperatures were higher and soil moisture contents (0–5 cm) were lower in open than in covered microsites, sand pine seedling densities did not vary in relation to proximity to resprouted hardwoods and palmettos. There was no apparent nurse plant effect on sand pine seedling distributions, but seedlings that grew up under the resprouts had larger whole stem flexibilities, greater height:diameter ratios, and less tapered stems. In response to the mechanical support and shade of neighboring plants, sand pine seedlings grow taller per unit investment in stem tissue, thereby shortening the period during which they presumably suffer from above-ground competition. This biomechanical plasticity increases the rates at which sand pine seedlings can overtop their resprouted competitors.