Oak forests can naturally regenerate from seed or from sprouts. Both strategies result in the establishment of a tree layer, but they involve a crucial difference: i.e. regeneration from seeds affects population genetics while sprouting assures the recovery of biomass after a disturbance but it does not involve sexual reproduction. In addition the two regeneration mechanisms differ in their complexity and are affected by different constraints: i.e. regeneration from seed is a more intricate pathway with several potential bottlenecks (e.g. seed and micro-sites availability, predation, seedling-saplings conflicts) while sprouting is a much more straightforward process benefiting from the presence of an already established root system and more independent from environmental stochasticity. Ultimately, regeneration from seeds or sprouts will result in contrasting forest structures (respectively, high-forests and coppices) with a different functioning and dynamics and requiring particular forestry practices. When natural regeneration is not possible, oak forest restoration must be done using artificial regeneration by seeding or planting (traditionally, both methods have been recommended), provided that acorn predators are controlled. Although similar results have been obtained with regard to survival, under Mediterranean conditions, shoot growth patterns clearly differ for both methods. Indeed, one-year seedlings often discontinue their shoot elongation shortly after transplanting, especially under drought or competition. At this time, a new taproot and fine lateral roots are formed. This observation suggests that the seeding and planting techniques may bear different consequences with regard to root system development, which may ultimately affect seedling establishment. Survival and growth planted seedlings depends on morphological and physiological attributes (Burdett in Can J For Res 20:415–427, 1990; Villar-Salvador et al. in New For 43:755–770, 2012; Grossnickle in New For 43:711–738, 2012). Cultivation techniques strongly determine the functional attributes of seedlings by manipulating the amount of resources (water, mineral nutrients, light, space) and the conditions (temperature, growing medium pH, photoperiod) for seedling growth. Consequently, how seedlings are cultivated impacts on the performance of forest plantations. Cultivation practices improve the ‘‘seedling physiological potential’’, increasing the chances of survival immediately after field planting. Each of these has an influence and interacts with the others (Ketchum and Rose in Interaction of initial seedling size, fertilization and vegetation control. Redding, CA, pp 63–69, 2000), which should be taken into consideration when evaluating a reforestation proposal; otherwise, artificial forest regeneration often results in unacceptably poor seedling performance. Planting date and site preparation, since they increase water availability, have been shown to be the factors most relevant to the survival of Mediterranean species. However, in less restrictive conditions, the use of less intensive soil preparation, on dates more favorable to the initial growth of the seedlings in the field, might be more efficient. Similarly, the use of tree shelters in oaks plantations is under debate, as its effects are species and environmental dependent. A better understanding of the ecophysiological seedling response under the microenvironment of the tree shelter is needed to improve the management of this protection tool. On the other side, the effects of cultivation practices can be linked closely to newly established seedlings (the post-planting phenological cycle), and such benefits are ephemeral in nature; thus, the effects of cultivation practices have their greatest importance during the initial growing seasons (1–2 years), diminishing with time.

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