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Cork oaks in Murcia

November 1st, 2020 Leave a comment Go to comments

Cork oak (Quercus suber) typically grows in relatively wet mediterranean environments [1]. However there are some cork oaks in arid climate; perhaps the population in the driest site is the small and isolated cork oak patch in Rambla de Talón (ca. 100 m asl, Ribera de Molina, Molina de Segura, Murcia, Spain; Fig. 1). It includes less than 100 individuals scattered in an area of sandy conglomerates (Fig. 3); the average rainfall is less than 300 mm. They are believed to have been planted in the past (when?), but their persistence in such arid conditions gives them a high added value. This population is much smaller and is located in a much drier conditions than the one in Pinet (Valencia) we mentioned some time ago [2,3].

Figure 1. Distribution of Cork oak (Quercus suber) in the Iberian Peninsula. Light grey is the species distribution; dark grey is the data from forest inventories; crosses are small isolated populations. In red is the population of Murcia. Map from [1].

Precipitation during the last spring was above average, and currently (end of October 2020) most oaks in Rambla de Talón look healthy and have some acorns. Of the 26 tree we look at, the number of acorns ranged from 0 (7 trees) to more than 400 acorns (2 trees), but most trees have less than 10 acorns (Fig. 2; median= 5 acorns). In addition, there is no evidence of recruitment from previous years. That is, if persistence of this population is desired, it would require some help for their regeneration. Given that they produce some acorns, restoration actions using local acorns is possible.

Fig. 2 Acorn production (October 2020) in 26 cork oak trees from Rambla de Talón, Ribera de Molina, Murcia.

References
[1] Aronson J, Pereira JS, Pausas JG (eds). 2009. Cork Oak Woodlands on the Edge: conservation, adaptive management, and restoration. Island Press, Washington DC. 315 pp. [The book]

[2] Pausas JG, Ribeiro E, Dias SG, Pons J & Beseler C. 2006. Regeneration of a marginal Cork oak (Quercus suber) forest in the eastern Iberian Peninsula. J. Veget. Sci. 17: 729-738. [pdf | doi | wiley ]

[3] El surar de Pinet – a small isolated population of cork oak. jgpausas.blogs.uv.es/2018/10/15/



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