Are silvopastoral systems compatible with forest regeneration? An integrative approach in southern Patagonia
Soler Esteban, Rosina Matilde
Martínez Pastur, Guillermo José
Peri, Pablo Luis
Lencinas, María Vanessa
We used an integrated approach to analyze the influence of silvopastoral management on the biotic and abiotic factors influencing on the natural recruitment of native forests in Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). The probabilities of transition from flowers to seeds to seedlings were estimated in forests with silvopastoral management (i.e., stands that had been both grazed and thinned), secondary growth stands, and unmanaged old-growth areas. Pre-dispersal losses were caused by microclimate and insect predation acting on flowers and immature fruits. Post-dispersal losses resulted from the impact of reduced litterfall and microclimate. But the most critical stage of the overall cycle was seedling establishment. Silvopastoral practices and stand age modified the main drivers of regeneration. While flowering was unaffected by management, fruiting and seed production were more successful in unmanaged forests. Seedling establishment and survival were favored by canopy cover reduction in silvopastoral stands. The increase of solar radiation and soil moisture in managed forests positively influenced the seedling establishment and survival, while in second-growth forests it was limited by suitable micro-site availability. Thinning practices aimed at increasing the understory heterogeneity in mature forests and restoring canopy complexity of second-growth stands could be suitable for sustainable management of these temperate forests.