carbon isotope characterization of vegetation and soil organic matter in subtropical forests in luquillo, puerto rico

Carbon Isotope Characterization of Vegetation and Soil Organic Matter in Subtropical Forests in Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Joseph C. von Fischer and Larry L. Tieszen
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 138-148

We examined natural abundances of 13C in vegetation and soil organic matter (SOM) of subtropical wet and rain forests to characterize the isotopic enrichment through decomposition that has been reported for temperate forests. Soil cores and vegetative samples from the decomposition continuum (leaves, new litter, old litter, wood, and roots) were taken from each of four forest types in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. SOM δ13C was enriched 1.6% relative to aboveground litter. We found no further enrichment within the soil profile. The carbon isotope ratios of vegetation varied among forests, ranging from -28.2% in the Colorado forest to -26.9% in the Palm forest. Isotope ratios of SOM differed between forests primarily in the top 20 cm where the Colorado forest was again most negative at -28.0%, and the Palm forest was most positive at -26.5%. The isotopic differences between forests are likely attributable to differences in light regimes due to canopy density variation, soil moisture regimes, and/or recycling of CO2. Our data suggest that recalcitrant SOM is not derived directly from plant lignin since plant lignin is even more 13C depleted than the bulk vegetation. We hypothesize that the anthropogenic isotopic depletion of atmospheric CO2 (ca 1.5% in the last 150 years) accounts for some of the enrichment observed in the SOM relative to the more modern vegetation in this study and others. This study also supports other observations that under wet or anaerobic soil environments there is no isotopic enrichment during decomposition or with depth in the active profile.

Pervasive alteration of tree communities in undisturbed Amazonian forests

Laurance, W.F. et al. (2004) Pervasive alteration of tree communities
in undisturbed Amazonian forests. Nature 428, 171–175

Amazonian rainforests are some of the most species-rich tree communities on earth1. Here we show that, over the past two decades, forests in a central Amazonian landscape have experienced highly nonrandom changes in dynamics and composition. Our analyses are based on a network of 18 permanent plots unaffected by any detectable disturbance. Within these plots, rates of tree mortality, recruitment and growth have increased over time. Of 115 relatively abundant tree genera, 27 changed significantly in population density or basal area—a value nearly 14 times greater than that expected by chance. An independent, eight-year study in nearby forests corroborates these shifts in composition. Contrary to recent predictions2–5, we observed no increase in pioneer trees. However, genera of faster-growing trees, including many canopy and emergent species, are increasing in dominance or density, whereas genera of slower-growing trees, including many subcanopy species, are declining. Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations6 may explain these changes, although the effects of this and other large-scale environmental alterations remain uncertain. These compositional changes could have important impacts on the carbon storage, dynamics and biota of Amazonian 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.

Distribution of Nitrous Oxide and Regulators of Its Production across a Tropical Rainforest Catena in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

MCSWINEY, CLAIRE P.; MCDOWELL, WILLIAM H.; KELLER, MICHAEL 2001. Distribution of nitrous oxide and regulators of its production across a tropical rainforest catena in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. Biogeochemistry 56: 265-286.

Understanding of N2O fluxes to the atmosphere is complicated by interactions between chemical and physical controls on both production and movement of the gas. To better understand how N2O production is controlled in the soil, we measured concentrations of N2O and of the proximal controllers on its production in soil water and soil air in a field study in the Rio Icacos basin of the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. A toposequence (ridge, slope-ridge break, slope, slope-riparian break, riparian, and streambank) was used that has been previously characterized for groundwater chemistry and surface N2O fluxes. The proximal controls on N2O production include NO−3 , NH+4 , DOC, and O2. Nitrous oxide and O2 were measured in soil air and NO−3 , NH+4 , and DO were measured in soil water. Nitrate and DOC disappeared from soil solution at the slope-riparian interface, where soil N2O concentrations increased dramatically. Soil N2O concentrations continued to increase through the flood plain and the streambank. Nitrous oxide concentrations were highest in soil air probes that had intermediate O2 concentrations. Changes in N2O concentrations in groundwater and soil air in different environments along the catena appear to be controlled by O2 concentrations. In general, N processing in the unsaturated and saturated zones differs within each topographic position apparently due to differences in redox status.

Stormflow generation in a small rain-forest catchment in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

Schellekens,J.; Scatena, F. N.; Bruijnzee, L.A.; van Dijk, A. I. J. M.; Groen, M. M. A.; van Hogezand, R. J. P. 2004. Stormflow generation in a small rainforest catchment in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico.. Hydrol. Process. 18, 505-530.

Various complementary techniques were used to investigate the stormflow generating processes in a small headwater catchment in northeastern Puerto Rico. Over 100 samples were taken of soil matrix water, macropore flow, streamflow and precipitation, mainly during two storms of contrasting magnitude, for the analysis of calcium, magnesium, silicon, potassium, sodium and chloride. These were combined with hydrometric information on streamflow, return flow, precipitation, throughfall and soil moisture to distinguish water following different flow paths. Geo-electric sounding was used to survey the subsurface structure of the catchment, revealing a weathering front that coincided with the elevation of the stream channel instead of running parallel to surface topography. The hydrometric data were used in combination with soil physical data, a one-dimensional soil water model (VAMPS) and a three-component chemical mass-balance mixing model to describe the stormflow response of the catchment. It is inferred that most stormflow travelled through macropores in the top 20 cm of the soil profile. During a large event, saturation overland flow also accounted for a considerable portion of the stormflow, although it was not possible to quantify the associated volume fully. Although the mass-balance mixing model approach gave valuable information about the various flow paths within the catchment, it was not possible to distill the full picture from the model alone; additional hydrometric and soil physical evidence was needed to aid in the interpretation of the model results

Orchid-Phorophyte Relationships in a Forest Watershed in Puerto Rico

Orchid-Phorophyte Relationships in a Forest Watershed in Puerto Rico
Luis E. Migenis and James D. Ackerman
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 9, No. 2 (May, 1993), pp. 231-240

Orchid diversity, distribution and host specificity were examined in a tropical watershed in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico. Eleven orchid species occur in the area. The low diversity is attributed to island isolation and large-scale hurricane disturbances. Pleurothallis ruscifolia and Maxillaria coccinea were by far the most abundant species in the area and occurred on the largest number of host species and host zones. None of the orchids were host specific or host zone specialists although preferences for hosts and vertical host zones were encountered. Only 8.2% of the 426 trees and shrubs and 24.4% of the 45 species surveyed were orchid phorophytes (= hosts). Examination of host distribution by diameter at breast height (DBH) showed that 80.5% were greater than 16 cm DBH. Orchid species in the area tend to occur on rough bark hosts, but their preferences are not statistically significant. Guarea guidonia (Meliaceae) and Dacryodes excelsa (Burseraceae) are the two most important orchid hosts in our study site comprising 62.9% of all host trees. Careful management of these two tree species is suggested, since these species may be crucial to the maintenance of orchid abundance and diversity in the area.

Eutrophic overgrowth in the self-organization of tropical wetlands illustrated with a study of swine wastes in rainforest plots

Kent,Roberta; Odum, H.T.; Scatena, F.N. 2000. Eutrophic overgrowth in the self-organization of tropical wetlands illustrated with a study of swine wastes in rainforest plots. Ecological Engineering 16 255-269.

The relationship of plant species diversity to cultural eutrophy in tropical wetlands was studied in Puerto Rico with experimental plots, a survey of 25 eutrophic sites developing from the wastes of society, and a simulation mini-model. The model is a quantitative hypothesis which contains the mechanisms to maximize empower (gross production) by reinforcing low diversity, net production overgrowth when resources are in excess, but switches to high diversity efficiency and recycle to maximize gross production when excess resources are absent. To study self-organization with eutrophy, six wetland plots (32 m) were seeded with many plant species and treated for five months with pig wastewaters and control plots with groundwater. Vegetation was seeded: (1) with seed bank; (2) with ten species of local rainforest and wetland trees (60 individuals in each plot); and (3) with weedy species invading from fertile surroundings. The fertilized waste plots filled in with vegetation in less than half the time (9 weeks) required for the clear water control plots (21 weeks). Vegetative diversity in both waste and control plots was maximum (2.73–3.34 bits per individual) shortly before 100% cover was reached, and then declined with the competitive overgrowth of a few species (mixed grasses and Commelina diffusa). Of the planted seedlings, there was little growth, and individuals of only four species survived. Survival of Andira inermis and Cyrilla racemiflora was 42 and 53%, respectively. Dominants of oligotrophic wetlands (Pterocarpus officinalis and Prestoea montana) were displaced. A survey of 25 other wetland sites, receiving high nutrient waters from developments, found low diversity overgrowth, but different species prevailing. Eighty-five species were involved in wetland self-organizational processes and ecological engineering management. Eutrophic wetlands, such as those released from sugar cane closure in Puerto Rico and elsewhere, may be in a state of marshy, arrested succession because there may not be a forest species already adapted for rapid reforestation of the excess nutrient habitat. The study provides evidence of the overgrowth principle as the natural means for ecological engineering of eutrophic interfaces between the current civilization and environment.

Riparian Nitrogen Dynamics in Two Geomorphologically Distinct Tropical Rain Forest Watersheds: Nitrous Oxide Fluxes

Riparian Nitrogen Dynamics in Two Geomorphologically Distinct Tropical Rain Forest Watersheds: Nitrous Oxide Fluxes
William B. Bowden, William H. McDowell, Clyde E. Asbury and Amy M. Finley
Vol. 18, No. 2 (1992), pp. 77-99

Fluxes of N<sub>2</sub>O at the soil surface, dissolved N<sub>2</sub>O in near-surface groundwater, and potential N<sub>2</sub>O production rates were measured across riparian catenas in two rain forest watersheds in Puerto Rico. In the Icacos watershed, mean N<sub>2</sub>O fluxes were highest at topographic breaks in the landscape (∼40-300 μg N<sub>2</sub>O-N m<sup>-2</sup> h<sup>-1</sup>). At other locations in the riparian zone and hillslope, fluxes were lower (≤ 2 μg N<sub>2</sub>O-N m<sup>-2</sup> h<sup>-1</sup>). This pattern of surface N<sub>2</sub>O fluxes was persistent. In the Bisley watershed, mean suface N<sub>2</sub>O fluxes were lower (<40 μg N<sub>2</sub>O-N m<sup>-2</sup> h<sup>-1</sup>) and no identifiable spatial or temporal pattern. Although the spatial patterns and intensities of N<sub>2</sub>O emissions differed between the two watersheds, surface soils from both sites had a high potential to reduce NO<sub>3</sub> to N<sub>2</sub>O (and perhaps N<sub>2</sub>). This potential declined sharply with depth as did soil %C, %N, and potential N-mineralization. Simple controls on denitrification (i.e. aeration, nitrate, and carbon) explained characteristics of potential N<sub>2</sub>O production in surface and deep soils from riparian and upslope locations. In the field, spatial patterns in these controlling variables were defined by geomorphological differences between the two watersheds, which then explained the spatial patterns of observed N<sub>2</sub>O flux.
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