The INCREMENTO project attempts to evaluate the consequences of a progressive increase of wild ungulate (red deer, Cervus elaphus) abundance on the structure and functioning of two Mediterranean environments (Quintos de Mora, Toledo and Muela de Cortes, Valencia). We are conducting a manipulative approach based on the release of herds of female red deer in four enclosures (two by study area) that have been kept free for the effect of herbivores for more than ten years. Our objectives are to asses the ungulate effects on: This work has been funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades through the INCREMENTO project (RTI2018-094202-BC21). 1. SOIL We have conducted a greenhouse experiment with 168 pots to study plant development and competition (grass versus tree) growing on excluded and grazed soils. On the other hand, we have recorded plant biomass, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colonization rates and composition of the root microbial communities. We also have collected 102 soil samples for physicochemical analysis. In the same sampling plots, we assessed bulk density, anionic and cationic ion soil interchanges and organic material degradation and stabilization rates (Teabag index). Fungi communities in roots have also been studied in six plant species. 2. PLANTS For plant physiology, we have performed three sampling campaigns along the vegetative period in the two study areas. More than 600 recordings of chlorophyll, nitrogen, anthocyanin and flavonoid concentrations using a Dualex A sensor. Spectral signature of plants: More than 3,000 recordings of spectral signatures using a field-portable spectroradiometer. Vegetation structure and browsing status: We have performed two sampling campaigns (more than 75 transects or plots) we have recorded the browsing status of more than 700 plant individuals. We have recorded the floristic composition, richness and functional diversity in 225 plots. For wildfire Risk assessment, we have recorded plant biomass of more than 700 individuals.
|Published - 12 Dec 2021