Does phosphate acquisition constrain legume persistence in the fynbos of the Cape Floristic Region?
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- Power, S.C., Cramer, M.D., Verboom, G.A. et al. Plant Soil (2010) 334: 33. doi:10.1007/s11104-010-0311-8
Abundance of Fabaceae declines in representation through post-fire-succession in fynbos vegetation of the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). This reduction in legume occurrence coincides with a known decline in post-fire soil P availability. It was hypothesized that the disappearance of legume species during post-fire succession is due to an inability to acquire P effectively from sparingly soluble sources. P-acquisition strategies and response to P supply were compared between legume (Aspalathus, Cyclopia, Indigofera, Podalyria) and non-legume (Elegia, Leucadendron, Protea) genera when supplied with 1 or 10 mg P kg−1 dry sand. Each genus consisted of a seeder (non-persistent) and resprouter (persistent) species. Non-legumes showed a greater investment in below-ground biomass, more root clusters, with higher concentrations of carboxylates exuded by cluster roots and carboxylates that were better suited to the mobilization of sparingly soluble P compared to legumes. The growth response to increased P supply was 53% higher in legumes than in non-legumes. The lack of a growth response to an elevated P supply in the non-legumes was attributed to N-limitation. Legume resprouters had a higher investment in cluster-root biomass and a lower capacity to down-regulate P-uptake than the seeders. Therefore the inability to acquire sufficient P from low concentration and sparingly soluble soil P-sources may contribute to the lack of indigenous legume persistence in fynbos vegetation of the CFR.
KeywordsCarboxylatesCluster rootsFabaceaeMycorrhizaePost-fire successionRegeneration strategyResprouterSeeder
Cape Floristic Region