New Forests

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 843–857 | Cite as

Are small-scale overstory gaps effective in promoting the development of regenerating oaks (Quercus ithaburensis) in the forest understory?



We investigated the effect of small-scale overstory gaps on the ecophysiology and growth of Quercus ithaburensis saplings. The study aim was to characterize how changes in daily exposure to direct beam radiation affect photosynthetic performance in the short term and growth and biomass partitioning in the long term. Using individual net-houses, the following treatments were applied: (a) Unshaded (daily irradiance = 100 %), (b) shading net with no gap (Shade-daily irradiance = 6 %), (c) shading net with 1 h gap allowing direct beam radiation (11:00 am–12:00 pm, Shade+1-irradiance = 20 %), (d) shading net with 3 h gap (11:00 am–2:00 pm, Shade+3-irradiance = 44 %). The experiment was performed in an irrigated field. We measured growth, biomass allocation, leaf traits, daily courses of leaf gas exchange and water potential. Oak dry-weight increased while height to dry-weight ratio and specific leaf area decreased with increasing daily exposure to direct beam radiation. Leaf chlorophyll content was less affected. Higher net carbon assimilation rates (A), stomatal conductance (gs) and A/gs were associated with higher instantaneous photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) throughout the entire experimental PPFD range. However, during gap-hours, while exposed to saturating radiation levels of similar level (ca. 1,800 µmol photon m−2 s−1), A in the Shade+1 oaks was about half that of the Shade+3 oaks and nearly one-third that of the Unshaded oaks. Patterns of gs, intercellular CO2 (Ci) and quantum efficiency of photosystem II pointed towards the possibility of a metabolic limitation. In conclusion, oaks benefited significantly from small scale overstory gaps though their capacity to utilize transient saturating radiation levels decreased with decreasing gap duration.


Photosynthesis Stomatal conductance Plant acclimation Forest management Mediterranean 



Special thanks to: Jaime Kigel, Rinat Ovadia, Hedva and Max Cooper for their valuable assistance in this work. We thank: Asaf Tzur, Nitai Zeharia, Nurit Hibsher, Tom Fogel and Eitan Bney-Moshe for their help in the field measurements. The study was funded by The Israeli Forest Service (KKL).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnon Cooper
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yossi Moshe
    • 1
  • Ela Zangi
    • 1
  • Yagil Osem
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Natural ResourcesAgricultural Research Organization, Volcani CenterBet DaganIsrael
  2. 2.The Faculty of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentHebrew University of JerusalemRehovotIsrael

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