Resprouting from underground structures is one el the main regeneration strategies of Mediterranean shrubs after aerial biomass disturbance such as fire or clear-cutting to reduce fire risk. In order to study the effect of root competition and shading (simulated shoot competition) on Erica multiflora, growth, morphology, flowering performance and sprout size variability during resprouting, a factorial field experiment was conducted in which neighbours around target plants were eliminated and plants were shaded with mesh for two years. Root competition reduced sprout recruitment and sprout density (number of sprouts per unit stump area) more strongly than did shading. The negative effect of root competition on sprout biomass was constant with time, while the reduction due to shading increased with time. There was an interaction between root competition and shading on the biomass of sprouts 22 months after treatment: genets without root competition and shading were four times larger than in any other treatment. Both shading and root competition also decreased percentage branching but did not modify maximum sprout height. Only shading decreased the leaf/shoot biomass ratio and the percentage of flowering genets. One year after resprouting, root competition counteracted the effect of shading on inducing sprout biomass variability within the genet because it decreased sprout density, 22 months after treatment, sprout biomass variability was not affected by any main effect. The results suggest that competition among sprouts within the genet is asymmetric. However, shading by genet neighbours may not always increase sprout biomass variability if root competition is also severe.
- Removal experiment
- Sprout size variability