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Flooding tolerance of four tropical peatland tree species in a nursery trial

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In order to facilitate hydrological restoration, initiatives have been conducted to promote tree growth in degraded and rewetted peatlands in Indonesia. For these initiatives to be successful, tree seedlings need to be able to survive flooding episodes, with or without shade. We investigated the survival rates and the formation of adventitious roots in the case of four tree species exposed to combinations of different shading and water levels under controlled conditions in a nursery, with artificial rainwater and with peat soil as the medium. The research focused on the following questions (i) whether trees can grow on flooded peat soils; and (ii) which plant traits allow plants to cope with inundation, with or without shade. The four tree species compared (Shorea balangeran, Cratoxylum arborescens, Nephelium lappaceum and Durio zibethinus) include two natural pioneer and two farmer-preferred fruit trees. The experiment used a split-split plot design with 48 treatment combinations and at least 13 tree-level replicates. The study found that S. balangeran and C. arborescens had relatively high survival rates and tolerated saturated condition for 13 weeks, while N. lappaceum and D. zibethinus required non-saturated peat conditions. S. balangeran and C. arborescens developed adventitious roots to adapt to the inundated conditions. D. zibethinus, S. balangeran and N. lappaceum grew best under moderate (30%) shading levels, while C. arborescent grew best in full sunlight.

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