Plant–plant chemical interactions in forests can have a strong impact on the biodiversity and dynamics of these ecosystems, particularly in Mediterranean forests where plants exhibit a high secondary metabolite diversity. Allelopathic interactions in Mediterranean ecosystems have been mostly studied in the first stages of ecosystem dynamics, shrublands and pine forests, but little is known about these interactions in mature oak forests. In this study, the allelopathic effect of three main woody species of downy oak forests (Quercus pubescens, Acer monspessulanum and Cotinus coggygria) on germination and growth of two herbaceous species (Festuca ovina and Linum perenne) was tested through aqueous extracts obtained from different leaf phenological stages (green, senescent and litter). The germination velocity of the two target species was inhibited by the aqueous extracts of senescent leaves from all the woody species. The growth of F. ovina seedlings was affected by aqueous extracts of green leaves of all the woody species, while the growth of L. perenne was only affected by aqueous extracts of green leaves of A. monspessulanum. This shows that (i) allelochemicals released by leaf leachates of the dominant woody species could control the dynamic of the herbaceous species, and then their potential competition with trees and (ii) allelopathic effects of woody species are related to their phenological stage and seem consistent with the development stage of target species.
European Journal of Forest Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 18, 2017
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