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Isolated cork oak trees affect soil properties and biodiversity in a Mediterranean wooded grassland

Rossetti, Ivo and Bagella, Simonetta and Cappai, Chiara and Caria, Maria Carmela and Lai, Roberto and Roggero, Pier Paolo and Martins da Silva, Pedro and Sousa, José Paulo and Querner, Pascal and Seddaiu, Giovanna (2015) Isolated cork oak trees affect soil properties and biodiversity in a Mediterranean wooded grassland. Agriculture ecosystems and environment, Vol. 202 , p. 203-216. ISSN 0167-8809. eISSN 1873-2305. Article.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2015.01.008

Abstract

Mediterranean wooded grasslands are multipurpose systems that support high plant and animal diversity levels and are habitats of European importance (i.e., 6310 – Dehesas with evergreen Quercus spp.). Moreover, these systems offer a number of agro-ecosystem services such as forage production, soil carbon sequestration, nutrient recycling and soil protection. The scattered trees enhance the ecological complexity of grassland influencing the soil properties, the herbaceous layer diversity and composition and the soil communities. Understanding how isolated trees influence the other components of the system is essential to comprehend their role supporting high levels of above and below ground biodiversity and ecosystem services.
In the present study, we present a hypothetical framework of the effects of isolated trees on soil properties, plant and soil fauna assemblages, the latter here represented by the class Collembola. The floor litter and the associated input of organic matter to the soil was a key factor linking the components of the tree-soil-biodiversity system in a Mediterranean cork oak wooded grassland.
Topsoil C increased by +50% under the tree canopy in comparison with the areas beyond the tree canopy. Plant diversity was lower under tree canopy, but contributed to enhance the total species richness of the grassland. Collembolan diversity was higher under the peculiar conditions beneath the tree canopy. Relationships between plant and collembolan species emerged.
The findings of this study suggest that isolated trees have direct and indirect effects on soil properties, plant and collembolan assemblages, hence they can influence the ecological processes of wooded grasslands, with implications for food webs, nutrient cycling and productivity of the agro-ecosystem.

Item Type:Article
ID Code:10797
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords:Above–below ground biodiversity, Dehesa, floor litter, Quercus suber, soil fauna, soil organic matter
Subjects:Area 05 - Scienze biologiche > BIO/03 Botanica ambientale e applicata
Area 07 - Scienze agrarie e veterinarie > AGR/02 Agronomia e coltivazioni erbacee
Divisions:001 Università di Sassari > 01-a Nuovi Dipartimenti dal 2012 > Agraria
001 Università di Sassari > 01-a Nuovi Dipartimenti dal 2012 > Scienze della Natura e del Territorio
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0167-8809
eISSN:1873-2305
Deposited On:16 Feb 2015 17:08

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