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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Meta-Analysis of Effects of Forest Litter on Seedling Establishment

Wang, Zhengning; Wang, Dayang; Liu, Qingqing; Xing, Xianshuang; Liu, Bo; Jin, Shaofei; Tigabu, Mulualem

Abstract

Litter plays an important role in seedling establishment (emergence, survival, and early growth). Here, we performed a meta-analysis on 404 datasets from 33 independent studies to analyze the effects of litter cover on seedling emergence, survival, height, and biomass (root, stem, leaf, and total). Each dataset was stratified according to experimental conditions, litter type (broadleaf versus needle litter), litter amount (thickness), and seed size. The results showed that litter cover had an overall negative effect on seedling emergence and survival, a neutral effect on root, leaf, total biomass, and a positive effect on stem biomass and seedling height than the no-litter cover control. Compared to thin (<250 g m(-2)) and medium (250-500 g m(-2)) litter layers, thick litter (>500 g m(-2)) was more detrimental for seedling emergence, survival, and total biomass, which could be an adaptation mechanism to prevent the growth of young seedling among high densities of other plants (trees). Broadleaf litter cover had a stronger negative effect on seedling emergence and total biomass than needle litter. Litter cover had a stronger negative effect on emergence of small seeds than on emergence of larger seeds. Similarly, litter cover had a stronger overall negative effect on seedling emergence than on seedling survival. In field and common garden experiments, litter effects were negative for emergence and positive for total biomass. In glasshouse and germination chamber experiments, litter effects were negative for emergence, survival and total biomass. These findings would contribute to advancements in forest management, improving conservation and restoration efforts.

Keywords

plant biomass; litter thickness; litter type; seed size; seedling emergence; seedling survival

Published in

Forests
2022, volume: 13, number: 5, article number: 644
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Wang, Zhengning
Qufu Normal University
Wang, Zhengning
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Wang, Dayang
Fujian Huaxia Energy Design and Res Inst Co Ltd
Liu, Qingqing
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Xing, Xianshuang
Hydrology Bureau of Shandong Province
Liu, Bo
Qufu Normal University
Liu, Bo
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Jin, Shaofei
Minjiang University
Qufu Normal University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Forest Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/f13050644

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/117426