New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2011) 35(3): 280- 286

Establishment of Pseudotsuga menziesii and Pinus nigra seedlings in Kunzea ericoides and Leptospermum scoparium shrubland communities

Research Article
Murray Davis 1,*
Graham Coker 1
Clayson Howell 2
David Henley 1
  1. Scion, PO Box 29237, Christchurch 8540, New Zealand
  2. Department of Conservation, PO Box 10420, Wellington 6143, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

We compared establishment of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Corsican pine (Pinus nigra) seedlings in kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) and manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) shrubland to test the hypothesis that Douglas fir, because of its greater shade tolerance, is better able to establish in woody communities than pine species. Seed of the conifer species was sown under a range of canopy covers at six sites, the cover being low-statured vegetation in openings between stands, stand edges, and moderate and dense canopies. After three growing seasons, survival of Corsican pine seedlings was greatest in the open and declined progressively as canopy cover increased. This contrasted with Douglas fir, where survival was greatest at the canopy edge. Survival of Douglas fir seedlings significantly exceeded that of Corscican pine seedlings under dense canopy positions. Seedling numbers of both species declined significantly with increasing leaf area index of manuka, but not kanuka stands, where seedling numbers were lower. Leaf area index of manuka stands accounted for substantially greater variation in number and survival of Corsican pine than Douglas fir seedlings. It is concluded that Douglas fir is better able to establish in shaded environments in woody communities than Corsican pine; however, further monitoring is required to confirm the long-term survival of both species under the moderate and dense canopy positions in this trial.