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Relationship between Soil Nutrient Availability and Plant Species Richness in a Tropical Semi-Arid Environment
Yareni Perroni-Ventura, Carlos Montaña and Felipe García-Oliva
Journal of Vegetation Science
Vol. 17, No. 6 (Dec., 2006), pp. 719-728
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4499176
Page Count: 10
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Question: What is the relationship between soil fertility and plant species richness in the 'fertile islands' occurring beneath two species of legume (Cercidium praecox and Prosopis laevigata)? Location: Tehuacán-Cuicatlán region, central Mexico. Methods: Plant richness was measured in three micro-environments (below canopies of C. praecox, below canopies of P. laevigata and in areas without canopies). The concentration of soil nutrients (C, N and P), C and N in the microbiota, and processes of ecosystem functioning (net C mineralization rate and N mineralization) were measured. The relationship between soil variables and plant richness were assessed with ANCOVAs. Results: Soil nutrients and species richness increases markedly under fertility islands. There were higher concentrations of C and N in the soil, faster rates of C mineralization, and higher species richness under P. laevigata canopies. The relationship between soil fertility and species richness was always positive except for total N, ammonium and net C mineralization rate under C. praecox, and for available P under P. laevigata. Conclusions: The sign of the relationship between soil fertility and species richness varies according to the nutrient and the micro-environment. Positive relationships could result from between species complementarity and facilitation. Negative relationships could be explained by a specific limitation threshold for some soil resources (P and N for plants and C for the soil microbiota) which eliminate the possibilities of between species complementarity and facilitation above that threshold. As in all observational studies, these relationships should be considered only correlational.
Journal of Vegetation Science © 2006 Wiley