Phenomorphology and ecomorphological traits in Abies pinsapo. A comparison to other Mediterranean species
Pérez Latorre, Andrés V.; Cabezudo, Baltasar
Ecomorphological and phenomorphological characters, as functional and adaptive strategies, were studied in the conifer Abies pinsapo, a Western Mediterranean endemic fir (Spain). Data were taken in an altitudinal bioclimatic gradient (600 - 1800 m). Ecomorphological characters (growth-forms) show a suitable pool of strategies to live in a wide altitude and bioclimatic gradient, characterised by summer drought, but show poor adaptation to fires (thick bark but absence of regeneration). Individuals from the summit places are noticeable smaller than those from medium and lower altitudes. Its volumetric biomass estimation is the highest recorded up to now. Leaf characteristics (nanophyll, sclerophyll, glabrous) may have the key to A. pinsapo main adaptations to environment. Flowering in spring coincides with the most favourable season, which is typical to Mediterranean vegetation. The period of seed setting and seed dispersal match with that seen in Quercus and tall shrubs. The short vegetative growth period resembles that of deciduous Quercus and Pistacia. Partial leaf shedding occurs in the unfavourable season, but only in low and mid altitudes. Branch architecture may drive sequence and asynchrony of the phenological phases. Phenophasical activity indexes pointed to group A. pinsapo with trees (Quercus) but phenophasical patterns group it along with shrubs. Its conifer status makes it to be grouped near Juniperus oxycedrus as regards coenomorphs, but several differences exist. A. pinsapo hardly shows any altitude-related differences in its phenophasical behaviour, which could be interpreted as an inability to alter its phenological phases according to climatic parameters and/or tolerance to the gradient marked by those parameters. An increase in temperature and harsher summer aridity might lead A. pinsapo to cope with problems related with a longer leaf shedding period; in higher zones it should be favoured by a coincidence between its vegetative growth season and optimal edaphical and bioclimatic conditions.