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Four Montane Rain Forests of Jamaica: A Quantitative Characterization of the Floristics, the Soils and the Foliar Mineral Levels, and a Discussion of the Interrelations

E. V. J. Tanner
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 65, No. 3 (Nov., 1977), pp. 883-918
DOI: 10.2307/2259385
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2259385
Page Count: 40
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Four Montane Rain Forests of Jamaica: A Quantitative Characterization of the Floristics, the Soils and the Foliar Mineral Levels, and a Discussion of the Interrelations
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Abstract

A detailed quantitative description is given of the tree flora of thirty-eight square plots of 10 × 10 m in four forest-types at c. 1550 m altitude on the ridge between John Crow Peak and Morce's Gap in the Blue Mountains in Jamaica. The four forest-types (Mor Ridge, Mull Ridge, Wet Slope and Gap) can be assigned to three associations: the Chaetocarpus globosus--Clusia cf. havetioides--Lyonia cf. octandra association (Mor Ridge), the Dendropanax pendulus-Hedyosmum arborescens-Podocarpus urbanii association (Mull Ridge and Wet Slope) and the Cyathea pubescens--Meriania purpurea--Solanum punctulatum association (Gap). The two Ridge forests have a higher basal area and more individuals per unit area than the Gap and Wet Slope forests. The distributions of individuals in girth size-classes show that most species are regenerating. The level of competition appears to fall in the sequence Gap > Mull Ridge > Mor Ridge and to be greater in Gap forest than Wet Slope forest. The amount of organic matter in the soil decreases in the series Mor Ridge > Mull Ridge > Gap > Wet Slope. In a mineralization test moderate quantities of nitrate were released in all soils except that of the Wet Slope forest. In a series of bioassays several species were found to fail completely on Mor Ridge forest soil. Two species showed a primary limitation by phosphorus on the other three soils, and one accumulated nitrogen to high levels. Holcus lanatus on soil from Mor Ridge forest showed a significant response to phosphate fertilizers but only after the pH was raised. Mean foliar levels of N, P, K and Ca increase along the sequence Mor Ridge, Mull Ridge-cum-West Slope, Gap. In contrast, the foliar levels in single species do not differ between forest-types except for K and Mg; the K level is markedly lower in Mor Ridge forest. It is tentatively suggested that the Mor Ridge forest is limited primarily by the extremely low soil pH (2.8-3.5), that the Mull Ridge forest is limited relative to the Gap forest by a slower circulation of nutrients, and that the Wet Slope forest is limited relative to Mull Ridge forest by the lack of support provided by the very shallow soil ($\geqslantless 30$ cm deep) and the difficulty of establishment on a 30°-slope. Comparisons between the Jamaican forests and Lower Montane Rain forests in Puerto Rico and New Guinea show that the Jamaican forest soils are all low in total carbon (except Mor Ridge soil), total nitrogen and instantaneously exchangeable bases. Comparison of mean foliar mineral levels between the most widespread Jamaican forest-type (Mull Ridge-cum-Wet Slope) and a much taller Lower Montane Rain forest in New Guinea suggests that the Jamaican forest is not short of N, P, K or Ca, but it is emphasized that more critical studies on mineral cycling are needed to explore this question.

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