Unravelling the associations between climate, soil properties and forest management in Pinus pinaster decline in the Iberian Peninsula

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Cristina Prieto-Recio, Jorge Martín-García, Felipe Bravo, Julio J. Diez (2015) - Unravelling the associations between climate, soil properties and forest management in Pinus pinaster decline in the Iberian Peninsula - Forest Ecology and Management

Forest decline may be a complex disease caused by the interaction of a number of interchangeable factors
(both abiotic and biotic), leading to gradual deterioration of the forest. These factors have been classified
as predisposing, inciting or contributing factors. Pinus pinaster Ait. is one of the most important forest
species in Spain because of its protective value and the high timber yields obtained. Maritime pine
decline has been observed in several forests in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, manifested as transparency
at the crown, small needles, foliage discolouration and premature tree death. The aim of this
study was to unravel the role of predisposing, inciting and contributing factors in Mediterranean maritime
pine decline in Spain. Various parameters were measured in 27 circular plots of radius 15 m in natural
stands of P. pinaster ssp. mesogeensis. The data obtained indicated better forest health status in pure
stands, in which thinning has been carried out, than in unthinned mixed stands. High values of total
height and spring precipitation showed better forest health, whereas high tree density was associated
with the poorest forest health status. The results suggest that predisposing factors such as competition
and water deficit have triggered the decline of P. pinaster.

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