Spatial dependence and the relationship of soil organic carbon and soil moisture in the luquillo experimental forest, puerto rico

Wang H, Hall CAS, Cornell JD, Hall MHP.
2002. Spatial dependence and the relationship
of soil organic carbon and soil moisture in Luquillo experimental forest. Landsc.
Ecol. 17:671–84

We used geo-spatial statistical techniques to examine the spatial variation and relationship of soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil moisture (SM) in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF), Puerto Rico, in order to test the hypothesis that mountainous terrain introduces spatial autocorrelation and crosscorrelation in ecosystem and soil properties. Soil samples (n = 100) were collected from the LEF in the summer of 1998 and analyzed for SOC, SM, and bulk density (BD). A global positioning system was used to georeference the location of each sampling site. At each site, elevation, slope and aspect were recorded. We calculated the isotropic and anisotropic semivariograms of soil and topographic properties, as well as the cross-variograms between SOC and SM, and between SOC and elevation. Then we used four models (random, linear, spherical and wave/hole) to test the semivariances of SOC, SM, BD, elevation, slope and aspect for spatial dependence. Our results indicate that all the studied properties except slope angle exhibit spatial dependence within the scale of sampling (200 – 1000 m sampling interval). The spatially structured variance (the variance due to the location of sampling sites) accounted for a large proportion of the sample variance for elevation (99%), BD (90%), SOC (68%), aspect (56%) and SM (44%). The ranges of spatial dependence (the distances within which parameters are spatially dependent) for aspect, SOC, elevation, SM, and BD were 9810 m, 3070 m, 1120 m, 930 m and 430 m, respectively. Cross correlograms indicate that SOC varies closely with elevation and SM depending on the distances between samples. The correlation can shift from positive to negative as the separation distance increases. Larger ranges of spatial dependence of SOC, aspect and elevation indicate that the distribution of SOC in the LEF is determined by a combination of biotic (e.g., litterfall) and abiotic factors (e.g., microclimate and topographic features) related to elevation and aspect. This demonstrates the importance of both elevation and topographic gradients in controlling climate, vegetation distribution and soil properties as well as the associated biogeochemical processes in the LEF.

The Bromeliad Microcosm and the Assessment of Faunal Diversity in a Neotropical Forest

The Bromeliad Microcosm and the Assessment of Faunal Diversity in a Neotropical Forest
Barbara A. Richardson
Vol. 31, No. 2 (Jun., 1999), pp. 321-336

The faunas of tank bromeliads were sampled over two years in three forest types at different elevations in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico, and the diversity of their animal communities compared. Bromeliad plants behaved as islands in that, within forests, the species richness and abundance of their animal communities were significantly and positively correlated with increase in plant size. The amount of canopy debris they accumulated was similarly correlated with increase in plant size. Overall diversity was lowest in the dwarf forest, where plants were uniformly small. Animal communities were stable from year to year, and could be characterised for each forest type and for compartments within the plant. They showed a pattern of high dominance, which increased with elevation (McNaughton index 37, 54, and 73, respectively, for the tabonuco, palo colorado, and dwarf forest). Alpha-diversity for sites sampled in each year reflected net primary productivity (NPP) of the forest, declining with increasing elevation when animal abundance measures were used (jackknife estimates of Simpson's diversity index 6.54 & 11.04 [tabonuco], 3.53 & 6.22 [palo colorado], and 2.75 & 2.17 [dwarf forest]). Species richness over the two years, however, was highest in the intermediate palo colorado forest (187 species), compared to 146 and 88 in the tabonuco and dwarf forests, respectively. These figures were close to jackknife estimates of maximum species richness. The difference in species richness between tabonuco and palo colorado forests was significant in one year only. In addition to NPP, other factors, such as litter quality and the structural complexity of the habitat in the palo colorado forest, may have influenced species richness. The most abundant species in individual plants were also the most widely occurring, confirming known patterns of abundance and distribution in other functional groups. Diversity within bromeliad microcosms at different elevations supported known relationships between diversity, productivity, and habitat complexity along gradients and was not related to differences in the total bromeliad habitat available for colonization.

Metacommunity structure of tropical forest along an elevation gradient in Puerto Rico

Barone, J. A. et al. 2008. Metacommunity structure of tropical forest along an elevational gradient in Puerto Rico. – J. Trop. Ecol. 24: 525–534.

The development of metacommunity theory, which suggests that the diversity and composition of communities is influenced by interactions with other communities, has produced new tools for evaluating patterns of community change along environmental gradients. These techniques were used to examine how plant communities changed along elevation gradients in montane tropical forests. Two transects of 0.1-ha vegetation plots were established every 50 m in elevation in the mountains of eastern Puerto Rico. The transects ranged from 300 m to 1000 m asl and 400 m to 900 m. In each plot, all free-standing woody stems greater than 1 cm in diameter at 130 cm in height were marked, measured and identified. Additional data on three similar transects were taken from the literature. The upper or lower boundaries of species ranges were significantly clumped along all five transects. Coherence, a measure of the number of gaps in species distributions, was also significant across all transects, and three transects showed significant, albeit low, nestedness. Four sites had significant species turnover. These results suggest that metacommunity techniques can be useful in searching for patterns of community change present in montane tropical forests.

predicting landslide vegetation in patches on landscape gradients in puerto rico

Myster, R.W., Thomlinson, J.R., and Larsen, M.C., 1997, Predicting landslide vegetation in patches on landscape gradients in Puerto Rico: Landscape Ecology, v. 12 p. 299-307.

We explored the predictive value of common landscape characteristics for landslide vegetative stages in the LuquilloExperimental Forest of Puerto Rico using four different analyses. Maximum likelihood logistic regression showed that aspect, age, and substrate type could be used to predict vegetative structural stage. In addition it showed that the structural complexity of the vegetation was greater in landslides (1) facing the southeast (away from the dominant wind direction of recent hurricanes), (2) that were older, and (3) that had volcaniclastic rather than dioritic substrate. Multiple regression indicated that both elevation and age could be used to predict the current vegetation, and that vegetation complexity was greater both at lower elevation and in older landslides. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients showed that (1) the presence of volcaniclastic substrate in landslides was negatively correlated with aspect, age, and elevation, (2) that road association and age were positively correlated and (3) that slope was negatively correlated with area. Finally, principal components analysis showed that landslides were differentiated on axes defined primarily by age, aspect class, and elevation in the positive direction, and by volcaniclastic substrate in the negative direction. Because several statistical techniques indicated that age, aspect, elevation, and substrate were important in determining vegetation complexity on landslides, we conclude that landslide succession is influenced by variation in these landscape traits. In particular, we would expect to find more successional development on landslides which are older, face away from hurricane winds, are at lower elevation, and are on volcaniclastic substrate. Finally, our results lead into a hierarchical conceptual model of succession on landscapes where the biota respond first to either gradients or disturbance depending on their relative severity, and then to more local biotic mechanisms such as dispersal, predation and competition.

Effects of nutrient availability and other elevational changes on bromeliad populations and their invertebrate communities in a humid tropical forest in Puerto Rico

RICHARDSON, BARBARA A.; RICHARDSON,M. J.; SCATENA, F. N.; MCDOWELL, W. H. 2000. Effects of nutrient availability and other elevational changes on romeliad populations and their invertebrate communities in a humid tropical forest in Puerto Rico. Journal of Tropical Ecology 16:167±188.

Nutrient inputs into tank bromeliads were studied in relation to growth and productivity, and the abundance, diversity and biomass of their animal inhabitants, in three forest types along an elevational gradient. Concentrations of phosphorus, potassium and calcium in canopy-derived debris, and nitrogen and phosphorus in phytotelm water, declined with increasing elevation. Dwarf forest bromeliads contained the smallest amounts of debris/plant and lowest concentrations of nutrients in plant tissue. Their leaf turnover rate and productivity were highest and, because of high plant density, they comprised 12.8% of forest net primary productivity (0.47 t ha-1 y-1), and contained 3.3 t ha-1 of water. Annual nutrient budgets indicated that these microcosms were nutrient-abundant and accumulated < 5% of most nutrients passing through them. Exceptions were K and P in the dwarf forest, where accumulation was c. 25% of inputs. Animal and bromeliad biomass/plant peaked in the intermediate elevation forest, and were positively correlated with the debris content/bromeliad across all forest types. Animal species richness showed a signi®cant mid-elevational peak, whereas abundance was independent of species richness and debris quantities, and declined with elevation as forest net primary productivity declined. The unimodal pattern of species richness was not correlated with nutrient concentrations, and relationships among faunal abundance, species richness, nutrient inputs and environment are too complex to warrant simple generalizations about nutrient resources and diversity, even in apparently simple microhabitats.
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