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Ann Bot. 2002 Aug;90(2):245-51.

Influence of litter and weather on seedling recruitment in a mixed oak-pine woodland.

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  • 1Institute of Botany, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland.


The effects of regular litter removal and annual variation in temperature and precipitation on seedling recruitment of species differing in their seed size and mode of dispersal were studied in a 16-year (1984-1999) experiment in a mixed oak-pine wood in southern Poland. Litter was the most important factor in determining spatial variability in seedling recruitment, whereas differences in climatic conditions among years, especially temperature fluctuations in late winter and early spring, determined the temporal variability in seedling recruitment. Compared with control plots, significantly more new individuals of bryophytes and seedlings as well as a number of new species of vascular plants were noted in the litter-removal plots over the 16-year study. Litter strongly impeded seedling emergence of small-seeded species. The negative effect of litter on seedling recruitment of large-seeded species and the recruitment of new shoots in species growing clonally was much weaker. There was a significant positive correlation between the numbers of seedlings in the litter-removal and control plots and temperatures in January to March. In the litter-removal plots this mainly affected small-seeded species. Seedling recruitment was less consistently related to variation in precipitation. Positive relationships were found only between the number of seedlings of large-seeded species in the litter-removal plots and precipitation in July of the current year and in September of the previous year, and between the number of seedlings in the control plots and precipitation in September and November of the previous year.

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