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.

Structure and composition of vegetation along an elevational gradient in Puerto Rico

Gould, W.A.; González, G.; Carrero Rivera, G. 2006. Structure and composition of vegetation along an elevational gradient in Puerto Rico.. Journal of Vegetation Science 17: 563-574, .

Question: What are the composition, conservation status, and structural and environmental characteristics of eight mature tropical forest plant communities that occur along an elevational gradient. Location: Northeastern Puerto Rico. Methods: We quantified the species composition, diversity, conservation status, and ecological attributes of eight mature tropical forest plant communities in replicated plots located to sample representative components of important forest types occurring along an elevational gradient. A suite of environmental and vegetation characteristics were sampled at each plot and summarized to characterize communities and analyse trends along the elevational gradient. Results: The set of communities included 374 species; 92% were native, 14% endemic, and 4% critical elements (locally endangered) to the island. All communities, occurring within a wide range of patch sizes and degree of conservation protection, showed a high percentage of native species (> 89% per plot). The lowland moist forest communities, occurring within a matrix of urbanization, agriculture, and disturbance, had the highest degree of invasion by exotics. Community descriptions were nested within a variety of hierarchies to facilitate extrapolation of community characteristics to larger ecosystem units. Basal area, above-ground biomass, canopy heights, and mean species richness peaked at mid elevations. Conclusions: It is significant that all of these forest communities continue to be dominated by native species while existing in a matrix of human and natural disturbance, species invasion, and forest regeneration from widespread agriculture. The lowland moist and dry forest types represent a minority of the protected forested areas in Puerto Rico, serve as unique genetic reservoirs, and should be protected.
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