Vizinho, A., Príncipe, A., Vasconcelos, A.C., Rebelo, R., Branquinho, C. & Penha‐Lopes, G. (2023) Using and creating microclimates for cork oak adaptation to climate change.Land, 12(3), 531. DOI:10.3390/land12030531 (IF2022 3,9; Q2 Environmental Studies)
In Mediterranean climate regions, climate change is increasing aridity and contributing to the mortality rate of Quercus suber, reducing the success of reforestation efforts. Using and creating microclimates is a recommended climate adaptation strategy that needs research. Our hypothesis is that planting Q. suber in north-facing slopes and water lines results in a higher survival rate than those that are planted in ridges and south-facing slopes. Secondly, our hypothesis is that existing shrubs (in this case, Cistus ladanifer) can be used to create microclimatic sheltering and increase the survival of Q. suber plantations. In experiment 1, we tested the survival of Q. suber plantations in four different topographic conditions. For that, 80 Q. suber plants were planted over four different topographic conditions, where soil probes were installed to monitor soil moisture and temperature. Two years after, the results show an increased survival rate in the north-facing slope and water line when compared to the ridge area (p = 0.032). In experiment 2, we tested if planting in the shade of rows of C. ladanifer increases the survival rate of Q. suber plantations. For that, 1200 Q. suber plants were planted; 600 in a Montado open area with no shade and 600 under the shade of rows of C. ladanifer shrubs. A total of 17 months after plantation, there was a significantly higher survival rate of the shaded plants (p = 0.027). We conclude that microclimates created by topography and shrubs can have a significant impact on the survival of Q. suber plantations and discuss the situations in which these can apply.