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Resource Heterogeneity Generated by Shrubs and Topography on Coastal Sand Dunes

Peter Alpert and Harold A. Mooney
Vegetatio
Vol. 122, No. 1 (Jan., 1996), pp. 83-93
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20048628
Page Count: 11
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Resource Heterogeneity Generated by Shrubs and Topography on Coastal Sand Dunes
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Abstract

In early stages of primary succession, colonizing plants can create resource patches that influence the abundance and distribution of other species. To test whether different colonizing shrubs generate contrasting patches on coastal sand dunes, we compared soil characteristics and light availability under the nitrogen-fixing shrub Lupinus arboreus, under the non-nitrogen-fixing shrub Artemisia pycnocephala, and between shrubs on dunes at a site in northern California. Concentrations of inorganic nitrogen and net nitrogen mineralization rates were generally 1-10 times greater in soil under Lupinus than under Artemisia or between shrubs. Soil water content was mostly lower under shrubs. Mean photon flux density near ground level was reduced by at least 80% at ≥ 35 cm inside shrub canopies. Topography appeared to have more effect on soil moisture but less direct effect on nitrogen availability than did Lupinus. However, Lupinus probably increases nitrogen levels more on higher, drier dunes. Microhabitats under and between nitrogen-fixing shrubs constitute a mosaic of individually poor but complementary patches in which high levels of light and moderate levels of soil nitrogen are present but tend not to occur together.

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