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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Nutrient Accumulation during Primary Succession in a Montane Tropical Forest, Puerto Rico


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 59 No. 5, p. 1444-1452
    Received: May 23, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Daniel J. Zarin  and
  2. Arthur H. Johnson
  1. Dep. of Natural Resources, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824
    Dep. of Geology, Univ. of Pennsylvania, 240 South 33rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316



Few studies document both above- and belowground changes in ecosystem nutrient capital with successional time. This study was conducted to assess the resiliency of soil and biomass nutrient capital in a montane tropical forest following catastrophic disturbance. We report measurements of soil and biomass C, N, P, K, Ca, and Mg pools in a chronosequence of landslide scars ranging from 1 to >55 yr (n = 12) in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. Pool sizes are also reported for plots located in the two late-succession vegetation associations, which represent both potential mature forest stages for aggrading landslide scars and the dominant predisturbance forest types at that elevation: the palm brake forest (n = 3), dominated by sierra palm [Prestoea montana (R. Grah.) Nichols], and the palo colorado forest (n = 5), dominated by palo colorado [Cyrilla racemiflora L.] and other dicots. The soils of new landslide scars contain much less exchangeable nutrient cation capital than that present in biomass + soil exchange pools in either of the mature forest types or in the >55-yr landslide scars. Nonetheless, recovery of N, P, K, and Mg to levels present in both mature forest associations occurs during the brief course of this primary succession chronosequence, suggesting that forest recovery is not limited by the availability of those nutrients. Recovery of C and Ca pools is apparently slower.

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