Next Article in Journal
Characteristics of Fine Roots of Pinus massoniana in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, China
Next Article in Special Issue
How Cities Think: Knowledge Co-Production for Urban Sustainability and Resilience
Previous Article in Journal / Special Issue
Soil Biology Research across Latitude, Elevation and Disturbance Gradients: A Review of Forest Studies from Puerto Rico during the Past 25 Years
Article Menu
Issue 6 (June) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Forests 2017, 8(6), 182;

Substrate Chemistry and Rainfall Regime Regulate Elemental Composition of Tree Leaves in Karst Forests

International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), USDA Forest Service, Rio Piedras 00926-1115, Puerto Rico
Centro de Ecología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Altos de Pipe 1020A, Venezuela
Departmento de Biología, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan 00926; Puerto Rico
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Timothy A. Martin
Received: 15 April 2017 / Revised: 13 May 2017 / Accepted: 20 May 2017 / Published: 25 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Forest Ecology and Management for the Anthropocene)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1896 KB, uploaded 25 May 2017]   |  


Forests on calcareous substrates constitute a large fraction of the vegetation in Puerto Rico. Plant growth on these substrates may be affected by nutrient deficiencies, mainly P and Fe, resulting from high pH and formation of insoluble compounds of these elements. The occurrence of these forests in humid and dry areas provides an opportunity to compare nutrient relations, water use efficiency, and N dynamics, using biogeochemical parameters. We selected sites under humid climate in the north, and dry climate in the southwest of Puerto Rico. Adult, healthy leaves of species with high importance values were collected at each site and analyzed for their elemental composition and the natural abundance of C and N isotopes. Calcium was the dominant cation in leaf tissues, explaining over 70% of the ash content variation, and Al and Ca concentration were positively correlated, excepting only two Al-accumulating species. Karst vegetation consistently showed high N/P ratios comparable to forests on P-poor soils. Dry karst sites had significantly higher δ13C and δ15N ratios. We conclude that forests on karst are mainly limited by P availability, and that mechanisms of nutrient uptake in the rhizosphere lead to linear correlations in the uptake of Ca and Al. Isotope ratios indicate higher water use efficiency, and predominant denitrification in dry karst forest sites. View Full-Text
Keywords: tropical karst; element concentration; N/P ratios; Ca/Al relationship; δ13C; δ15N tropical karst; element concentration; N/P ratios; Ca/Al relationship; δ13C; δ15N

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Medina, E.; Cuevas, E.; Lugo, A.E. Substrate Chemistry and Rainfall Regime Regulate Elemental Composition of Tree Leaves in Karst Forests. Forests 2017, 8, 182.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Forests EISSN 1999-4907 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top