Soil Resources (soil + resource)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

The umbric epipedon in the N Apennines, Italy,an example from the Vallombrosa Forest

Guido Sanesi
Abstract The umbric epipedon is a diagnostic surface horizon recognized by both the World Reference Base for Soil Resources and the U.S. Soil Taxonomy. It is mainly characterized by a dark color, a moderate to high content of OM, and a base saturation of less than 50%. In the N Apennines, Central Italy, forest soils over 600,700 m a.s.l. often have this epipedon. This paper stresses the morphological, chemical, and biological properties of the epipedon, specifically in the Vallombrosa Forest, where considerable work has been done in the last decade. Here, the umbric epipedon forms on sandstone, in high forests of Abies alba, Fagus sylvatica, and Castanea sativa. It does not have homogeneous properties throughout its thickness and often is divided into two distinct genetic horizons, A1 and A2. The A1 horizon is thinner, darker, and richer in OM, more base-saturated, and biologically more active than the underlying A2 horizon. The mean residence time of the bulk OM amounts to about a century in the A1 horizon, versus half a millennium in the A2. In both A1 and A2 horizons, the non-humic fraction prevails in the OM; this could account for the high susceptibility of the umbric epipedon to degrade when the forest is clear-cut or undergoes extensive uprooting due to windstorms or heavy snow loads. Significant discrepancies between the two A horizons have been found in regard to the microbial community. Umbric epipedons which developed under different tree species show minor differences, mainly concerning the microbial community. [source]

Competitive effects of grasses and woody plants in mixed-grass prairie

Duane A. Peltzer
Summary 1,Variation in the competitive ability of plant species may determine their persistence and abundance in communities. We quantified the competitive effects of grasses and woody plants in native mixed-grass prairie on the performance of transplant species and on resources. 2,We separated the effects of grasses, shrubs and intact vegetation containing both grasses and shrubs by manipulating the natural vegetation using selective herbicides to create four neighbourhood treatments: no neighbours (NN), no shrubs (NS), no grasses (NG) and all neighbours (AN). Treatments were applied to 2 × 2 m experimental plots located in either grass- or shrub-dominated habitats. The effects of grasses and shrubs on resource availability (light, soil moisture, soil available nitrogen) and on the growth of transplants of Bouteloua gracilis, a perennial tussock grass, and Elaeagnus commutata, a common shrub, were measured over two growing seasons. 3,Resource availability was two- to fivefold higher in no neighbour (NN) plots than in vegetated plots (NS, NG, AN) with grasses and shrubs having similar effects. Light penetration declined linearly with increasing grass or shrub biomass, to a minimum of about 30% incident light at 500 g m,2 shoot mass. Soil resources did not decline with increasing neighbour shoot or root mass for either grasses or shrubs, suggesting that the presence of neighbours was more important than their abundance. 4,Transplant growth was significantly suppressed by the presence of neighbours, but not by increasing neighbour shoot or root biomass, except for a linear decline in Bouteloua growth with increasing neighbour shoot mass in plots containing only shrubs. Competition intensity, calculated as the reduction in transplant growth by neighbours, was similar in both grass- and shrub-dominated habitats for transplants of Bouteloua, but was less intense in shrub-dominated habitats for the shrub Elaeagnus. Variation in the persistence and abundance of plants in communities may therefore be more strongly controlled by variation in the competitive effects exerted by neighbours than by differences in competitive response ability. [source]

Root competition: beyond resource depletion

Summary 1Root competition is defined as a reduction in the availability of a soil resource to roots that is caused by other roots. Resource availability to competitors can be affected through resource depletion (scramble competition) and by mechanisms that inhibit access of other roots to resources (contest competition, such as allelopathy). 2It has been proposed that soil heterogeneity can cause size-asymmetric root competition. Support for this hypothesis is limited and contradictory, possibly because resource uptake is affected more by the amount and spatial distribution of resource-acquiring organs, relative to the spatial distribution of resources, than by root system size per se. 3Root competition intensity between individual plants generally decreases as resource availability (but not necessarily habitat productivity) increases, but the importance of root competition relative to other factors that structure communities may increase with resource availability. 4Soil organisms play important, and often species-specific, roles in root interactions. 5The findings that some roots can detect other roots, or inert objects, before they are contacted and can distinguish between self and non-self roots create experimental challenges for those attempting to untangle the effects of self/non-self root recognition, self-inhibition and root segregation or proliferation in response to competition. Recent studies suggesting that root competition may represent a ,tragedy-of-the-commons' may have failed to account for this complexity. 6Theories about potential effects of root competition on plant diversity (and vice versa) appear to be ahead of the experimental evidence, with only one study documenting different effects of root competition on plant diversity under different levels of resource availability. 7Roots can interact with their biotic and abiotic environments using a large variety of often species-specific mechanisms, far beyond the traditional view that plants interact mainly through resource depletion. Research on root interactions between exotic invasives and native species holds great promise for a better understanding of the way in which root competition may affect community structure and plant diversity, and may create new insights into coevolution of plants, their competitors and the soil community. [source]

Darkness visible: reflections on underground ecology

Summary 1Soil science and ecology have developed independently, making it difficult for ecologists to contribute to urgent current debates on the destruction of the global soil resource and its key role in the global carbon cycle. Soils are believed to be exceptionally biodiverse parts of ecosystems, a view confirmed by recent data from the UK Soil Biodiversity Programme at Sourhope, Scotland, where high diversity was a characteristic of small organisms, but not of larger ones. Explaining this difference requires knowledge that we currently lack about the basic biology and biogeography of micro-organisms. 2It seems inherently plausible that the high levels of biological diversity in soil play some part in determining the ability of soils to undertake ecosystem-level processes, such as carbon and mineral cycling. However, we lack conceptual models to address this issue, and debate about the role of biodiversity in ecosystem processes has centred around the concept of functional redundancy, and has consequently been largely semantic. More precise construction of our experimental questions is needed to advance understanding. 3These issues are well illustrated by the fungi that form arbuscular mycorrhizas, the Glomeromycota. This ancient symbiosis of plants and fungi is responsible for phosphate uptake in most land plants, and the phylum is generally held to be species-poor and non-specific, with most members readily colonizing any plant species. Molecular techniques have shown both those assumptions to be unsafe, raising questions about what factors have promoted diversification in these fungi. One source of this genetic diversity may be functional diversity. 4Specificity of the mycorrhizal interaction between plants and fungi would have important ecosystem consequences. One example would be in the control of invasiveness in introduced plant species: surprisingly, naturalized plant species in Britain are disproportionately from mycorrhizal families, suggesting that these fungi may play a role in assisting invasion. 5What emerges from an attempt to relate biodiversity and ecosystem processes in soil is our extraordinary ignorance about the organisms involved. There are fundamental questions that are now answerable with new techniques and sufficient will, such as how biodiverse are natural soils? Do microbes have biogeography? Are there rare or even endangered microbes? [source]

Size traits and site conditions determine changes in seed bank structure caused by grazing exclusion in semiarid annual plant communities

ECOGRAPHY, Issue 1 2006
Yagil Osem
1. Contrasting patterns of change in the seed bank of natural grasslands are frequently found in response to grazing by domestic herbivores. Here, we studied the hypotheses that a) patterns of change in seed bank density and composition in response to grazing depend on spatial variation in resource availability and productivity, and b) that variation among species in patterns of seed bank response to grazing is linked to differences in species size traits (i.e. size of plant, dispersal unit and seed). 2. Effects of sheep grazing exclusion on the seed bank were followed during five years in a semiarid Mediterranean annual plant community in Israel. Seed bank density and composition were measured in autumn, before the rainy season, inside and outside fenced exclosures in four neighboring topographic sites differing in vegetation characteristics, soil resources and primary productivity: Wadi (dry stream terraces, high productive site), Hilltop, South- and North-facing slopes (less productive sites). 3. Topographic sites differed in seed density (range ca 2500,18000 seed m,2) and in seed bank response to grazing exclusion. Fencing increased seed density by 78, 51 and 18% in the Wadi, South- and North-facing slopes, respectively, but had no effect in the Hilltop. At the species level, grazing exclusion interacted with site conditions in determining species seed bank density, with larger or opposite changes in the high productive Wadi compared to the other less productive sites. 4. Changes in seed bank structure after grazing exclusion were strongly related to species size traits. Grazing exclusion favored species with large size traits in all sites, while seed density of tiny species decreased strongly in the high productive Wadi. Species with medium and small size traits showed lesser or no responses. 5. The size of plants, dispersal units and seeds were strongly correlated to each other, thus confounding the evaluation of the relative importance of each trait in the response of species to grazing and site conditions. We propose that the relative importance of plant size vs seed size in the response to grazing changes with productivity level. [source]

Spatial variability of soil and nutrient characteristics of semi-arid grasslands and shrublands, Jornada Basin, New Mexico

ECOHYDROLOGY, Issue 1 2008
Eva Nora Mueller
Abstract Heterogeneity of vegetation and soil properties is characteristic of semi-arid and arid environments. The potential underlying causes of the dynamics that create this spatial variability, with consequent impacts on landscape connectivity and thus ecological and ecohydrological processes, are not clearly understood. An investigation was carried out into the spatial variability of ponded infiltration rate, soil moisture, soil-aggregate stability, vegetation cover, random roughness and nutrient content in the soil (ammonium, nitrate and phosphorus) at grassland and shrubland sites for two spatial scales in the Jornada Basin, in the northern part of the Chihuahua desert. At the plant-interplant scale, statistically significant differences exist between vegetated and non-vegetated sites for soil moisture and infiltration rate within both shrublands and grasslands. The spatial distributions of all other parameters follow a more complex scheme at this scale. At the landscape scale, distinct differences exist for most parameters between the grasslands and the shrubland sites. Geostatistical analysis revealed that the autocorrelation lengths are not simply a function of average shrub sizes, but may be caused by a more complex pattern probably related to the spatial layout of rill and inter-rill areas and other localized transfers of soil resources through the redistribution of water and wind. These results demonstrate the importance of understanding spatial linkages of processes within the landscape in understanding dryland ecosystem dynamics. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Corn stover feedstock trials to support predictive modeling

GCB BIOENERGY, Issue 5 2010
Abstract To be sustainable, feedstock harvest must neither degrade soil, water, or air resources nor negatively impact productivity or subsequent crop yields. Simulation modeling will help guide the development of sustainable feedstock production practices, but not without field validation. This paper introduces field research being conducted in six states to support Sun Grant Regional Partnership modeling. Our objectives are to (1) provide a fundamental understanding of limiting factor(s) affecting corn (Zea mays L.) stover harvest, (2) develop tools (e.g., equations, models, etc.) that account for those factors, and (3) create a multivariant analysis framework to combine models for all limiting factors. Sun Grant modelers will use this information to improve regional estimates of feedstock availability. A minimum data set, including soil organic carbon (SOC), total N, pH, bulk density (BD), and soil-test phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) concentrations, is being collected. Stover yield for three treatments (0%, 50%, and 90% removal) and concentrations of N, P, and K in the harvested stover are being quantified to assess the impact of stover harvest on soil resources. Grain yield at a moisture content of 155 g kg,1 averaged 9.71 Mg ha,1, matching the 2008 national average. Stover dry matter harvest rates ranged from 0 to 7 Mg ha,1. Harvesting stover increased N,P,K removal by an average of 42, 5, and 45 kg ha,1 compared with harvesting only grain. Replacing those three nutrients would cost $53.68 ha,1 based on 2009 fertilizer prices. This first-year data and that collected in subsequent years is being used to develop a residue management tool that will ultimately link multiple feedstock supplies together in a landscape vision to help develop a comprehensive carbon management plan, quantify corn stover harvest effects on soil quality, and predict regional variability in feedstock supplies. [source]

Drivers of Unsustainable Land Use in the Semi-Arid Khabur River Basin, Syria

Abstract The semi-arid zone of Southwest Asia, known as the Fertile Crescent, is under unprecedented stress because of agricultural development. Where rain-fed agriculture and transhumant herding had prevailed over ten millennia, today intensive cultivation with irrigation threatens future sustainability. A number of interconnected, but uncoordinated drivers of change combine to shape the landscape and its future, and their changes make it hard to anticipate future requirements and opportunities, as well as to implement policies, whether by local stakeholders or at the national level. Among the factors that comprise the socio-natural systems are (1) climate, (2) water and soil resources, (3) history of land use, (4) social, economic and political factors, (5) infrastructural developments (6) interstate impacts, and (7) legacies of the past. The example of the Khabur River drainage in northeastern Syria shows the dynamic interplay among these factors over the past 70 years, with implications for the way future policies and practices are developed. [source]

The effect of pea cultivar and water stress on root and shoot competition between vegetative plants of maize and pea

Tzehaye Semere
Summary 1Improvements in intercrop yields may be achieved through an understanding of yield advantages due to above-ground or below-ground interactions. 2Forage maize and two morphologically contrasting cultivars of pea (leafy cv. Bohatyr and semi-leafless cv. Grafila) were grown alone and in additive mixtures, under two contrasting levels of soil moisture (± water stress). 3The mechanism of competition between maize and pea was studied by separating the effects of root competition and shoot competition, using soil and aerial partitions. Plants were grown in rectangular tanks in a glasshouse. 4Leafy pea cv. Bohatyr was as competitive as maize, both below-ground and above-ground, whereas semi-leafless pea cv. Grafila was less competitive than maize or pea cv. Bohatyr. The greater competitive ability of the leafy pea, both above- and below-ground, was probably due to its greater growth rate, associated with its greater leaf area. 5The competitive ability of maize, relative to peas, was considerably reduced by water stress. Both the root and shoot competitive abilities of pea were greater under water stress, compared with those of maize. 6Relative yield total (RYT) values were significantly greater when maize and pea were subjected to shoot competition only (RYT = 1·76) than when subjected to root competition (RYT = 1·17) or when subjected to both shoot and root competition (RYT = 1·13). This reflects the fact that the effects of root competition were greater than those of shoot competition. 7Root competition decreased the shoot dry weights, plant height and leaf area of both maize and pea, whereas shoot competition had no significant effect on these attributes, indicating that soil resources, i.e. mineral nutrients and water, were more limiting than light. [source]

Impact of eucalyptus and pine growing on rural livelihood: the lesson from Bukoba area, north western Tanzania

Phillip K. MwanukuziArticle first published online: 3 FEB 200
Abstract Sustainable resource management intends to allocate resources in such a way that unnecessary deterioration of biophysical and socio-economical systems is avoided. In Bukoba Area where rainfalls are plenty, evergreen grasslands were expansive and forests were limited, eucalypts (eucalyptus spp.) and pines (pinus spp.) were grown on grasslands for preventing land degradation through deforestation and for providing additional source of income for rural poor. This study shows that in addition to detrimental consequence of eucalyptus and pine forests on soil resources, conversion of Bukoban grasslands to forests has negatively impacted livelihood of the rural poor. Growing eucalypts and pines on grasslands prevented a farming system that enabled integration of grasslands, cattle keeping and crop production. Consequently, the grasslands role of nutrients cycling was disrupted, food crop production reduced, home-gardens productivity declined, majority deprived important livelihood asset and foreign income flow into the area reduced. [source]

Photon flux partitioning among species along a productivity gradient of an herbaceous plant community

Summary 1We studied light partitioning among species along the natural productivity gradient of herbaceous vegetation with an above-ground dry mass of 150,490 g m,2. The aim was to investigate how the light capturing ability per above-ground biomass and leaf nitrogen changes in an entire community and to reveal whether different species respond similarly to changes in soil conditions and competition. 2Species becoming dominant at high soil resources have intrinsically low leaf area ratios (LAR) and lower tissue nitrogen concentration, and hence relatively high nitrogen use efficiency. These traits lead to dominance when soil resources allow rapid growth so that benefits arising from the ability to locate leaves above neighbours and thereby increasing asymmetry of competition, become more crucial. 3In contrast to our expectations, above-ground efficiency of nitrogen use on the community level (aNUE) increased along the productivity gradient. Species level nitrogen use efficiency was unaffected by variation in site productivity; the increase in community aNUE was solely as a consequence of changes in species composition. 4Light absorption per unit of above-ground mass, ,M, declined significantly at the community level and also in most species, indicating that light use efficiency increased with increased site productivity and LAI. 5Light absorption per unit of leaf nitrogen, ,N, as an indicator of the ratio NUE/LUE showed no clear pattern on the community level because both NUE and LUE tend to increase with increased productivity. At the species level, ,N tends to decrease because NUE did not change with stand productivity. 6Some subordinate species responded by enlarging their LAR to increased competition. Additionally, these species were the most responsive in their leaf chlorophyll/nitrogen ratio to changes in light conditions, which shows that physiological plasticity is important for species that are unable to compete for light with the ability to position their leaves above those of other species. 7This study shows how plasticity in above-ground growth pattern and nitrogen allocation differs between species with respect to increased soil fertility and competition, leading to distinctive strategies of survival. Light partitioning analysis reveals that increased competition for light, resulting in changes in species composition, is the key factor that leads to decoupling of species and community level acclimation. [source]

Lack of relationship between below-ground competition and allocation to roots in 10 grassland species

James F. Cahill Jr
Summary 1A field experiment in a native grassland in Central Alberta, Canada, tested whether plants alter relative allocation to roots vs. shoots in response to below-ground competition, and whether the mass of a species' root system accounts for interspecific differences in below-ground competitive response. 2Seedlings of each of 10 native species were transplanted into the naturally occurring vegetation in the field at the start of the growing season. Root interactions between the target plants and their neighbours were manipulated through the use of PVC root exclusion tubes, with target plants grown with or without potential root interactions with their neighbours. Neighbour shoots were also tied back, forcing any target,neighbour interactions to be below ground. 3Below-ground competition generally reduced plant growth, with its relative magnitude varying among species. 4An allometric analysis indicated that competition below ground did not result in an increase in the relative biomass allocated to roots for any of the 10 target species. This is counter to the growth-balance hypothesis (and optimal foraging theory). Below-ground competition did increase root : shoot ratios, but this was due to reduced plant size (small plants have larger root : shoot ratios), rather than adaptive plasticity. 5A species' below-ground competitive ability was not related to its root system size. Although this finding is counter to commonly made assumptions, it is supported by other work demonstrating below-ground competition to be generally size-symmetric. 6Despite the majority of plant,plant interactions in grasslands being below ground, our understanding of plant competition above ground is significantly more robust. Several wide-spread assumptions regarding below-ground competition are suspect, and more multispecies studies such as this are required to provide a fuller picture of how plants respond to, and compete for, soil resources. [source]

Grazing effect on diversity of annual plant communities in a semi-arid rangeland: interactions with small-scale spatial and temporal variation in primary productivity

Yagil Osem
Summary 1The interactive effect of grazing and small-scale variation in primary productivity on the diversity of an annual plant community was studied in a semiarid Mediterranean rangeland in Israel over 4 years. The response of the community to protection from sheep grazing by fenced exclosures was compared in four neighbouring topographic sites (south- and north-facing slopes, hilltop and wadi (dry stream) shoulders), differing in vegetation, physical characteristics and soil resources. The herbaceous annual vegetation was highly diverse, including 128 species. Average small-scale species richness of annuals ranged between 5 and 16 species within a 20 × 20 cm quadrat, and was strongly affected by year and site. 2Above-ground potential productivity at peak season (i.e. in fenced subplots) was typical of semiarid ecosystems (10,200 g m,2), except on wadi shoulders (up to 700 g m,2), where it reached the range of subhumid grassland ecosystems. Grazing increased richness in the high productivity site (i.e. wadi), but did not affect, or reduced, it in the low productivity sites (south- and north-facing slopes, hilltop). Under grazing, species richness was positively and linearly related to potential productivity along the whole range of productivity. Without grazing, this relationship was observed only at low productivity (< 200 g m,2). 3The effect of grazing along the productivity gradient on different components of richness was analysed. At low productivity, number of abundant, common and rare species all tended to increase with productivity, both with and without grazing. Rare species increased three times compared with common and abundant species. At high productivity, only rare species continued to increase with productivity under grazing, while in the absence of grazing species number in the different abundance groups was not related to productivity. 4In this semiarid Mediterranean rangeland, diversity of the annual plant community is determined by the interaction between grazing and small-scale spatial and temporal variation in primary productivity, operating mainly on the less abundant species in the community. [source]

Relationship between soil nutrient availability and plant species richness in a tropical semi-arid environment

Yareni Perroni-Ventura
Abstract Question: What is the relationship between soil fertility and plant species richness in the ,fertile islands' occurring beneath two species of legume (Cercidium praecox and Prosopis laevigata)? Location: Tehuacán-Cuicatlán region, central Mexico. Methods: Plant richness was measured in three micro-environments (below canopies of C. praecox, below canopies of P. laevigata and in areas without canopies). The concentration of soil nutrients (C, N and P), C and N in the microbiota, and processes of ecosystem functioning (net C mineralization rate and N mineralization) were measured. The relationship between soil variables and plant richness were assessed with ANCOVAs. Results: Soil nutrients and species richness increases markedly under fertility islands. There were higher concentrations of C and N in the soil, faster rates of C mineralization, and higher species richness under P. laevigata canopies. The relationship between soil fertility and species richness was always positive except for total N, ammonium and net C mineralization rate under C. praecox, and for available P under P. laevigata. Conclusions: The sign of the relationship between soil fertility and species richness varies according to the nutrient and the micro-environment. Positive relationships could result from between species complementarity and facilitation. Negative relationships could be explained by a specific limitation threshold for some soil resources (P and N for plants and C for the soil microbiota) which eliminate the possibilities of between species complementarity and facilitation above that threshold. As in all observational studies, these relationships should be considered only correlational. [source]

Diversity loss, recruitment limitation, and ecosystem functioning: lessons learned from a removal experiment

OIKOS, Issue 3 2001
Amy J. Symstad
A five-year removal experiment in which plant functional group diversity was manipulated found strong limitation of ecosystem functioning caused by the differing abilities of remaining functional groups to recruit into space left unoccupied by the plants removed. We manipulated functional group diversity and composition by removing all possible combinations of zero, one, or two plant functional groups (forbs, C3 graminoids, and C4 graminoids), as well as randomly chosen biomass at levels corresponding to the functional group removals, from a prairie grassland community. Although random biomass removal treatments showed no significant effect of removing biomass in general on ecosystem functions measured (P>0.05), the loss of particular functional groups led to significant differences in above- (P<0.001) and belowground (P<0.001) biomass, rooting-zone (P=0.001) and leached (P=0.01) nitrogen, nitrogen mineralization (P<0.001), and community drought resistance (P=0.002). Many of these differences stemmed from the marked difference in the ways remaining functional groups responded to the experimental removals. Strong recruitment limitation of C4 graminoids resulted in large areas of open ground, high nutrient leaching, and high community drought resistance in plots containing just this functional group. In contrast, rhizomatous C3 graminoids quickly colonized space and used soil resources made available by the removal of other groups, leading to lower soil nitrate in plots containing C3 graminoids. These effects of recruitment limitation on ecosystem functioning illustrate possible effects of diversity loss not captured by synthetic experiments in which diversity gradients are created by adding high densities of seeds to bare soil. [source]

United States Department of Agriculture,Agricultural Research Service research on pest biology: weeds,,

Frank Forcella
Abstract Over 125 permanent full-time scientists conduct research within the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) on issues related to weeds. The research emphasis of most of these scientists involves ecology and management or biological control of weeds. Many scientists perform research on weed biology as components of their primary projects on weed control and integrated crop and soil management. Describing all ARS projects involved with weed biology is impossible, and consequently only research that falls within the following arbitrarily chosen topics is highlighted in this article: dormancy mechanisms; cell division; diversity of rangeland weeds; soil resources and rangeland weeds; poisonous rangeland plants; horticultural weeds; weed traits limiting chemical control; aquatic and semi-aquatic weeds; weed/transgenic wheat hybrids; seedbanks, seedling emergence and seedling populations; and weed seed production. Within these topics, and others not highlighted, the desire of ARS is that good information on weed biology currently translates or eventually will translate into practical advice for those who must manage weeds. Published in 2003 for SCI by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Litter Decomposition Within the Canopy and Forest Floor of Three Tree Species in a Tropical Lowland Rain forest, Costa Rica

BIOTROPICA, Issue 3 2010
Catherine L. Cardelús
ABSTRACT The rain forest canopy hosts a large percentage of the world's plant biodiversity, which is maintained, in large part, by internal nutrient cycling. This is the first study to examine the effects of site (canopy, forest floor) and tree species (Dipteryx panamensis, Lecythis ampla, Hyeronima alchorneoides) on decay rates of a common substrate and in situ leaf litter in a tropical forest in Costa Rica. Decay rates were slower for both substrates within the canopy than on the forest floor. The slower rate of mass loss of the common substrate in the canopy was due to differences in microclimate between sites. Canopy litter decay rates were negatively correlated with litter lignin:P ratios, while forest floor decay rates were negatively correlated with lignin concentrations, indicating that the control of litter decay rates in the canopy is P availability while that of the forest floor is carbon quality. The slower cycling rates within the canopy are consistent with lower foliar nutrient concentrations of epiphytes compared with forest floor-rooted plants. Litter decay rates, but not common substrate decay rates, varied among tree species. The lack of variation in common substrate decay among tree species eliminated microclimatic variation as a possible cause for differences in litter decay and points to variation in litter quality, nutrient availability and decomposer community of tree species as the causal factors. The host tree contribution to canopy nutrient cycling via litter quality and inputs may influence the quality and quantity of canopy soil resources. Abstract in Spanish is available at [source]

Root/Shoot Allocation and Root Architecture in Seedlings: Variation among Forest Sites, Microhabitats, and Ecological Groups1

BIOTROPICA, Issue 3 2003
Horacio Paz
ABSTRACT I analyzed patterns of variation in root mass allocation and root morphology among seedlings of woody species in relation to environmental factors in four Neotropical forests. Among forests, I explored the response of root traits to sites varying in water or nutrient availability. Within each forest, I explored the plastic response of species to different microhabitats: gaps and understory. Additionally, I explored evidence for life history correlation of root and shoot traits by comparing species differing in their successional group (light-demanding [22 spp.] or shade tolerant [27 spp.]) and germination type (species with photosynthetic cotyledons or species with reserve cotyledons). At each forest site, young seedlings from 10 to 20 species were excavated. A total of 55 species was collected in understory conditions and 31 of them were also collected in gaps. From each seedling, six morphological ratios were determined. Allocation to roots was higher in forest sites with the lowest soil resources. Roots were finer and longer in the most infertile site, while roots were deeper in the site with the longest dry season. Seedling traits did not differ between germination types. Shade tolerant species allocated more to roots and developed thicker roots than light-demanding species. Light-demanding species showed stronger plastic responses to habitat than shade tolerant species, and species with photo-synthetic cotyledons showed lower plasticity than species with reserve cotyledons. Overall, these results suggest that among Neotropical species, root allocation and root morphology of seedlings reflect plant adjustments to water or nutrient availability at geographic and microhabitat scales. In addition, life history specialization to light environments is suggested by differences among groups of species in their allocation to roots and in their root morphology. RESUMEN Analicé los patrones de variación en la asignación de biomasa y en la morfología de raíces de plántulas de especies leñosas en relación a factores ambientales en cuatro bosques Neotropicales. Entre los bosques, exploré la respuesta promedia de características de las plántulas en sitios que varían en disponibilidad de agua o nutrientes en el suelo. Dentro de cada bosque, exploré la respuesta fenotípica de las especies entre claros y sotobosque. Además, explore correlaciones de la historia de vida de las especies con características de raíces y parte aérea, comparando especies con diferente hábito sucesional (demandante de luz [22 spp.] o tolerante a la sombra [27 spp.]) y tipo de germinación (especies con cotiledones fotosintéticos o cotiledones de reserva). En cada bosque, se excavaron plántulas de 10 a 20 especies manteniendo la integridad de sus raíces. Se colectaron 55 especies en el sotobosque y 31 de ellas fueron colectadas también en claros. De cada plántula obtuve seis parámetros morfológicos de raíces y parte aérea. La asignación de biomasa a raíces fue mayor en los bosques con menos recursos. Las plántulas desarrollaron raíces más finas, y con mayor longitud por unidad de superficie fotosintética, en el sitio menos fértil. En cambio, las raíces tendieron a ser más profundas en relación al área fotosintética en el sitio más estacional. Las especies tolerantes a la sombra asignaron más biomasa a raíces y desarrollaron raíces más gruesas que las especies demandantes de luz. Las características morfológicas de las plántulas no difirieron entre tipos de germinación. Las especies demandantes de luz mostraron mayor plasticidad al hábitat en la asignación de biomasa a raíces, que las especies tolerantes a la sombra. Las especies con cotiledones fotosintéticos mostraron menor plasticidad al hábitat en la asignación de biomasa a raíces que las especies con cotiledones de reserva. En conjunto, mis resultados sugieren que para especies Neotropicales la asignación de biomasa y la morfología de raíces en plántulas reflejan ajustes de las plantas a la disponibilidad de agua o nutrientes a escala geográfica y de micro-hábitat. Además, se sugiere que la asignación de biomasa y la morfología de raíces son componentes del síndrome de especialización a ambientes lumínicos en el bosque. [source]