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    Aims Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) is being restored across the U.S. South for a multitude of ecological and economic reasons, but our understanding of longleaf pine’s response to soil physical conditions is poor. On the contrary, our understanding of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) root and shoot growth response to soil conditions is well established.

    Methods We performed a comparative greenhouse study which modeled root length density, total seedling biomass, and the ratio of aboveground:belowground mass as functions of volumetric water content, bulk density and soil fertility (fertilized or not).

    Results Root length density was about 35 % greater in longleaf pine seedlings compared to loblolly pine seedlings, and was reasonably well modeled (R²=0.54) for longleaf pine by bulk density (linear), volumetric water content (quadratic), soil fertility, and the interactions of bulk density, volumetric water content, species, and soil fertility. The aboveground:belowground mass ratio (ABR) increased at both extremes of water content.

    Conclusions This research indicates that young longleaf pine seedling root systems respond more negatively to extremes of soil physical conditions than loblolly pine, and compacted or dry loamy soils should be ameliorated in addition to normal competition control, especially on soils degraded by past management.

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    Scott, D. Andrew; Burger, James A. 2014. Longleaf and loblolly pine seedlings respond differently to soil compaction, water content, and fertilization. Plant and Soil. 375:255-265.


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    Longleaf pine, Loblolly pine, Bulk density, Soil water content, Root length density

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