Quercus calliprinos regrowth advantage under grazing in Mediterranean maquis and its management implications

TitleQuercus calliprinos regrowth advantage under grazing in Mediterranean maquis and its management implications
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsAgra, H’el., & Ne’eman G.
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Pagination143 - 147
Date Published2011///
KeywordsDeciduous trees, diversity, Evergreen trees, Grazing, Regrowth, Sclerophyllous vegetation

The post disturbance natural succession of the Mediterranean maquis, which turns open and species-rich landscapes into dense, closed stands of sclerophyllous woody vegetation is a principal threat to plant and animal diversity. Therefore, in the absence of traditional agricultural disturbance, active management regimes that include cutting and grazing are proposed to preserve biodiversity. The Mediterranean woody vegetation in Israel is strongly dominated by one species – the evergreen sclerophyllous Quercus calliprinos (Kermes oak). We hypothesized that under cutting and grazing, the evergreen Q. calliprinos has a relative regrowth advantage over other competing tree species. Here we examined the effect of grazing and the effect of tree structural traits on the regrowth after clear cutting of all trees in our study plots at Mt. Meron LTER site, Israel. All trees were removed from five blocks of 2000 m2 and each block was divided into two plots, five of which were exposed to grazing livestock while five were wire-fenced and ungrazed. The regrowth rate of Q. calliprinos under grazing was higher than that of all other tree species suggesting that in the long-term, under such a conservation management regime, the dominance of the evergreen sclerophyllous Q. calliprinos over the deciduous tree species will increase and consequently will decrease plant and animal diversity. Therefore, we conclude that to protect landscape and species diversity in Mediterranean ecosystems dominated by evergreen oaks, when cutting and grazing are applied, special care must be paid to trees that are more negatively affected by such treatment.