Do pioneer species enhance early performance of native species in subtropical shrublands? An examination involving six native species in South China

Abstract

This paper examines the following questions: (1) Do early pioneer species have a greater impact on the survival and growth of different successional native trees compared to the shrub Rhodomyrtus tomentosa? (2) Do canopy treatments affect soil nutrients and light availability? (3) What is the mechanism underlying the interaction between nurse species and target species? Degraded shrubland sites (Heshan, Guangdong, China), under moist subtropical conditions were studied. About 1-year-old seedlings of Pinus massoniana, Schima wallichii, Schefflera heptaphylla, Castanopsis hystrix, Cryptocarya chinensis and Castanea chinensis were transplanted under the canopy of R. tomentosa, Dicranopteris dichotoma and in open interspaces without vegetation. Survival and growth were recorded from the first growing season after planting. Leaf gas exchange, water potential, soil physicochemical characters and irradiation were then measured. Canonical redundancy analyses (RDA) were used to evaluate the relationships between environmental factors and seedling survival and growth conditions. Both R. tomentosa and D. dichotoma canopy treatment facilitated seedling survival and growth either directly or indirectly. Irradiance/radiation was considered the most important resource (factor) for seedling growth in subtropical regions, however, soil nutrients and species are yet to be examined simultaneously with irradiance/radiation under field conditions. We conclude that early successional species facilitates the survival and growth of late successional species in subtropical shrublands. However, further predictions of successional trajectories remain elusive and are influenced by stochastic processes, including arrival order, shade tolerance, physiological character of the colonizing species and their competitive interactions.

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Abbreviations

A :

Net photosynthesis

AK:

Soil Available Potassium

Amax :

Light-saturated maximum photosynthesis

AP:

Soil Available Phosphorus

AQE :

Apparent Quantum Efficiency

CAS:

Chinese Academy of Sciences

CERN:

Chinese Ecological Research Network

C.V. :

coefficient of variation

DT-D:

dichotoma treatment

K:

total soil potassium

LCP :

light compensation point

N:

total soil nitrogen

NOVAS:

Two-Way Analyses of Variance

OT:

Open Treatment

P:

total soil phosphorus

PAR:

Photosynthetically Active Radiation

PPFD:

Photon Photosynthetic Flux Density

Rd:

Dark Respiration Rate

RDA:

Canonical Redundancy Analysis

RNE:

Neighbor Effect Index

RT-R:

tomentosa treatment

SBD:

Soil bulk density

SOC:

Soil Organic Carbon

SOM:

Soil Organic Matter

SWC:

Soil Water Content

Tair:

air Temperature

Ψmd :

Midday Leaf Water Potential.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31270013). The authors are grateful to several colleagues at Heshan National Field Research Station of Forest Ecosystems, especially to Z. F. Lin, Z. A. Li and X. Gou for experimental design guidance; to H. L. Zhang for soil chemical analyses; and to B. Zou and G. Wang for field assistance.

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Correspondence to S. Yuan.

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Yuan, S., Liu, N., Ren, H. et al. Do pioneer species enhance early performance of native species in subtropical shrublands? An examination involving six native species in South China. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 20, 53–63 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1556/168.2019.20.1.6

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Key words

  • Facilitation
  • Fern
  • Leaf water potential
  • Soil nutrient
  • Soil water content
  • Succession