•Vitality of Mediterranean seedlings was assessed by defoliation and discoloration.•Vitality related to leaf physiological traits such as SLA, LLS and PLC50.•Broad-leaved seedlings were facilitated in functionally diverse communities.•Pines served well as nurse plants by ameliorating microclimate conditions.•The stress-gradient hypothesis was not confirmed.
Forest Ecology and Management – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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