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Keywords:

  • drought;
  • fertilization;
  • Mediterranean shrubland;
  • nutrition strategies;
  • organic amendment

We investigated the potential of plant functional responses to speed up restoration in a postfire ecosystem. The patterns of change in plant nutrient uptake and water potential after compost amendment were monitored for 2 years in a 7-year-old postfire shrubland in southeastern France. We studied four different stress-tolerant species with contrasting life traits: three shrub species and a perennial herb. Three treatments were applied: control, 50 and 100 Mg/ha of fresh cocomposted sewage sludge and green waste. In both compost treatments, concentrations of all the macronutrients increased. The amendment improved N and cation nutrition, but the positive effect of compost on plant nutrient status was most apparent on leaf P concentrations, indicating that P was a limiting nutrient in this shrubland. Compost had no significant short-term effect on trace metal concentrations in plants. The plant nutrition response of different species to the compost varied; the nutritional status of Brachypodium retusum and Cistus albidus improved the most, whereas that of Quercus coccifera and Ulex parviflorus improved the least. Woody species exhibited no increase in N stocks. Phosphorus accumulation was also about three times higher in plots amended at 50 Mg/ha than in control plots for B. retusum and C. albidus. The severe summer drought of 2003 altered the compost effect. Contrary to our expectations, plants on amended plots did not exhibit a better water status in summer: the effect of the summer drought had a greater effect on water status than did the compost treatment.