iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Effects of soil compaction on seedling morphology, growth, and architecture of chestnut-leaved oak (Quercus castaneifolia)

Meghdad Jourgholami (1)   , Azadeh Khoramizadeh (1), Eric K Zenner (2)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 10, Issue 1, Pages 145-153 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1724-009
Published: Jun 13, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles

Soil compaction following traffic by heavy-timber harvesting machinery usually causes an increase in soil strength, that is a stress factor negatively affecting the growth of newly germinated seedlings. This study used a soil strength experiment carried out in a greenhouse to test the hypotheses that increasing soil strength would adversely affect seedling morphology and alter seedling architecture by changing biomass allocation patterns. We explored the effects of soil compaction in a loam to clay-loam textured soil with optimal conditions of water on a continuous scale (0.2-1.0 MPa penetration resistance) on growth responses of the deciduous Quercus castaneifolia (C.A.Mey). Both above- and below-ground seedling characteristics, including size and biomass, were negatively affected by soil compaction. At the highest intensity of compaction, size and growth were reduced by 50% compared to controls; negative effects were typically more severe on below-ground (i.e., the length and biomass of the root system) than on above-ground responses. Increasing soil strength did not change above- and below-ground biomass allocation patterns (i.e., root mass ratio, root:shoot ratio, specific root length), resulting in unchanged seedling architecture. Strong adverse effects were already evident in the low-intensity compaction treatment and no critical soil strength threshold was observed. We conclude that root and height growth in Q. castaneifolia seedlings is limited by any increase of soil strength, though no evidence for the disruption of a functional equilibrium between above- and below-ground plant portions was found up to soil strengths of 1.0 MPa, at least under optimal water supply.


Hyrcanian Forest, Penetration Resistance, Growth, Chestnut-leaved Oak, Relative Growth Rate.

Authors’ address

Meghdad Jourgholami
Azadeh Khoramizadeh
Department of Forestry and Forest Economics, University of Tehran, Zob-e-Ahan Street, 315854314 Karaj (Iran)
Eric K Zenner
College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennstate University, 305 Forest Resources Building, University Park, 1680 PA (USA)

Corresponding author

Meghdad Jourgholami


Jourgholami M, Khoramizadeh A, Zenner EK (2016). Effects of soil compaction on seedling morphology, growth, and architecture of chestnut-leaved oak (Quercus castaneifolia). iForest 10: 145-153. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1724-009

Academic Editor

Renzo Motta

Paper history

Received: May 29, 2015
Accepted: Feb 14, 2016

First online: Jun 13, 2016
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2017
Publication Time: 4.00 months

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