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Journal Article

Sclerophylly and Oligotrophic Environments: Relationships Between Leaf Structure, Mineral Nutrient Content, and Drought Resistance in Tropical Rain Forests of the Upper Rio Negro Region

Ernesto Medina, Victor Garcia and Elvira Cuevas
Biotropica
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Mar., 1990), pp. 51-64
DOI: 10.2307/2388719
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388719
Page Count: 14
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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.
Sclerophylly and Oligotrophic Environments: Relationships Between Leaf Structure, Mineral Nutrient Content, and Drought Resistance in Tropical Rain Forests of the Upper Rio Negro Region
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Abstract

Tree species from upper Rio Negro rain forests (tierra firme, tall Amazon caatinga, and bana) can be classified morphologically as sclerophylls. In some cases, as for Clusia spp., the structural characteristics fit the pachyphyll leaf type of Grubb. Nutrient content, specific leaf area, and leaf thickness of the species studied are comparable to those of sclerophylls from Mediterranean climates. In spite of their sclerophyllous structure, leaves of the species studied are relatively drought intolerant. During rainless periods leaf stomatal conductance decreases markedly avoiding development of large negative xylem pressures. Overheating is prevented by most species through pronounced leaf surface inclination. It is concluded that sclerophyllous structure is not necessarily an adaptation to drought, but is probably selected in nutrient poor environments. This conclusion supports evidence provided by several authors indicating that sclerophylls may gain predominance in P deficient soils in both humid and semi-arid areas.

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