Restoring oak forests through direct seeding or planting: Protocol for a continental-scale experiment
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Leverkus AB, Levy L, Andivia E, Annigho¨fer P, De Cuyper B, Ivetic V, et al. (2021) Restoring oak forests through direct seeding or planting: Protocol for a continental-scale experiment. PLoS ONE 16(11): e0259552. [https:// doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0259552]
SponsorshipThis collaborative experiment lacks specific funding and was designed to be as small, low-cost, and easy-to-implement as possible for each participant. The resources necessary to establish and monitor each experimental site as described in this document will be made available by each participant. Funding for the coordination of this experiment is available from grant RTI2018- 096187-J-100 from FEDER/ Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
The choice of revegetating via direct seeding or planting nursery-grown seedlings influences the potential stresses suffered by seedlings such as herbivory and drought. The outcome of the balance between both revegetation methods may ultimately depend on how species identity and traits such as seed and seedling size interact with environmental conditions. To test this, we will conduct a continental-scale experiment consisting of one mini-experiment replicated by multiple participants across Europe. Each participant will establish a site with seeded and planted individuals of one or more native, locally growing oak (Quercus) species; the selection of this genus aims to favour continental-scale participation and to allow testing the response of a widely distributed genus of broad ecological and economic relevance. At each site, participants will follow the present protocol for seed collection, seeding in the field, nursery cultivation, outplanting, protection against herbivores, site maintenance, and measurement of seedling performance and environmental variables. Each measurement on each species at each site will produce one effect size; the data will be analysed through mixed-effects meta-analysis. With this approach we will assess the main effect of revegetation method, species, plant functional traits, and the potential effect of site-specific effect moderators. Overall, we will provide a continental-scale estimate on the seeding vs. planting dilemma and analyse to what extent the differences in environmental conditions across sites, seed size, functional traits, and the phylogenetic relatedness of species can account for the differences in the effect of revegetation method on seedling performance across study sites and species.