Can Eucalyptus invade native forest fragments close to commercial stands?

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Elsevier B.V.



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Some Eucalyptus species are widely used as a plantation crop in tropical and subtropical regions. One reason for this is the diversity of end uses, but the main reason is the high level of wood production obtained from commercial plantings. With the advancement of biotechnology it will be possible to expand the geographical area in which eucalypts can be used as commercial plantation crops, especially in regions with current climatic restrictions. Despite the popularity of eucalypts and their increasing range, questions still exist, in both traditional planting areas and in the new regions: Can eucalypts invade areas of native vegetation, causing damage to natural ecosystems biodiversity?The objective of this study it was to assess whether eucalypts can invade native vegetation fragments in proximity to commercial stands, and what factors promote this invasive growth. Thus, three experiments were established in forest fragments located in three different regions of Brazil. Each experiment was composed of 40 plots (1 m(2) each one), 20 plots located at the border between the forest fragment and eucalypts plantation, and 20 plots in the interior of the forest fragments. In each experimental site, the plots were paired by two soil exposure conditions, 10 plots in natural conditions and 10 plots with soil exposure (no plant and no litter). During the rainy season, 2 g of eucalypts seeds were sown in each plot, including Eucalyptus grandis or a hybrid of E. urophylla x E. grandis, the most common commercial eucalypt species planted in the three region. At 15, 30, 45, 90, 180, 270 and 360 days after sowing, we assessed the number of seedlings of eucalypts and the number of seedlings of native species resulting from natural regeneration. Fifteen days after sowing, the greatest number of eucalypts seedlings (37 m(-2)) was observed in the plots with lower luminosity and exposed soil. Also, for native species, it was observed that exposed soil improved natural germination reaching the highest number of 163 seedlings per square meter. Site and soil exposure were the factors that have the greatest influence on seed germination of both eucalypt and native species. However, 270 days after sowing, eucalypt seedlings were not observed at any of the three experimental sites. The result shows the inability of eucalypts to adapt to condition outside of their natural range. However, native species demonstrated their strong capacity for natural regeneration in forest fragments under the same conditions where eucalypts were seeded. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.




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Forest Ecology and Management. Amsterdam: Elsevier B.V., v. 261, n. 11, p. 2075-2080, 2011.

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