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Forests 2018, 9(9), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9090565

Cycas micronesica Trees Alter Local Soil Traits

1
College of Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam 96923, USA
2
Cooperative Research and Extension, College of Micronesia-FSM, Yap Campus, Yap 96943, Federated States of Micronesia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 August 2018 / Revised: 25 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 September 2018 / Published: 13 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Abstract

Cycad plants possess uncommon morphological, chemical, and ontogenetic characteristics and they may introduce localized changes in soil traits that increase habitat heterogeneity. We used mature Cycas micronesica K.D. Hill trees growing in a range of soil types in Guam, Rota, and Yap to quantify differences between the soils beneath target trees and paired non-target soils away from cycad trees. The chronic presence of a C. micronesica tree introduced numerous localized changes in soil traits, increasing the heterogeneity of elemental stoichiometry in the community. Nitrogen, carbon:phosphorus, and nitrogen:phosphorus were increased in target soils among every soil type. Carbon increased and phosphorus decreased in most target soils. The habitats revealing the greatest number of elements with differences between target and non-target soils were the habitats with acid soils. The greatest number of metals exhibiting differences between the target and non-target soils occurred in the impoverished sandy habitat. This is the first report that indicates a cycad tree increases community spatial heterogeneity by localized changes in soil chemistry. Contemporary declines in cycad populations due to anthropogenic threats inadvertently decrease this spatial heterogeneity and its influences on primary producers in the landscape then cascading effects on the food web. View Full-Text
Keywords: cycad; home field advantage; fertile islands; plant-soil feedback; soil legacy effects cycad; home field advantage; fertile islands; plant-soil feedback; soil legacy effects
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Marler, T.E.; Krishnapillai, M.V. Cycas micronesica Trees Alter Local Soil Traits. Forests 2018, 9, 565.

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