Advertisement

Oecologia

, Volume 153, Issue 2, pp 417–430 | Cite as

Spatial variation in vegetation structure coupled to plant available water determined by two-dimensional soil resistivity profiling in a Brazilian savanna

  • Joice N. Ferreira
  • Mercedes Bustamante
  • Diana C. Garcia-Montiel
  • Kelly K. Caylor
  • Eric A. Davidson
Community Ecology

Abstract

Tropical savannas commonly exhibit large spatial heterogeneity in vegetation structure. Fine-scale patterns of soil moisture, particularly in the deeper soil layers, have not been well investigated as factors possibly influencing vegetation patterns in savannas. Here we investigate the role of soil water availability and heterogeneity related to vegetation structure in an area of the Brazilian savanna (Cerrado). Our objective was to determine whether horizontal spatial variations of soil water are coupled with patterns of vegetation structure across tens of meters. We applied a novel methodological approach to convert soil electrical resistivity measurements along three 275-m transects to volumetric water content and then to estimates of plant available water (PAW). Structural attributes of the woody vegetation, including plant position, height, basal circumference, crown dimensions, and leaf area index, were surveyed within twenty-two 100-m2 plots along the same transects, where no obvious vegetation gradients had been apparent. Spatial heterogeneity was evaluated through measurements of spatial autocorrelation in both PAW and vegetation structure. Comparisons with null models suggest that plants were randomly distributed over the transect with the greatest mean PAW and lowest PAW heterogeneity, and clustered in the driest and most heterogeneous transect. Plant density was positively related with PAW in the top 4 m of soil. The density-dependent vegetation attributes that are related to plot biomass, such as sum of tree heights per plot, exhibited spatial variation patterns that were remarkably similar to spatial variation of PAW in the top 4 m of soil. For PAW below 4 m depth, mean vegetation attributes, such as mean height, were negatively correlated with PAW, suggesting greater water uptake from the deep soil by plants of larger stature. These results are consistent with PAW heterogeneity being an important structuring factor in the plant distribution at the scale of tens of meters in this ecosystem.

Keywords

Vegetation structure Vegetation patterns Cerrado Soil moisture heterogeneity 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The A. W. Mellon Foundation provided financial support for this effort. CNPq provided a fellowship to the first author. The efforts of E. A. Davidson and M. Bustamante were also partially supported by NASA grant NNG06GD51G as part of the LCLUC program. D. C. Garcia-Montiel was supported by the PVE/Capes program. We are grateful to Carlos Klink and Liliane Bezerra for providing the TDR data and infrastructure. We thank Dr Euzebio M. da Silva of EMBRAPA Cerrados for analyses of water retention curves and for assistance with data interpretation. We thank Frederick Meinzer, Andy Bunn, and Moacyr Dias-Filho whose comments helped to improve this paper. Discussions with Mario Fariñas, supported by IAI project CNR 40, contributed greatly in an early stage of the analysis. Luiz Solórzano provided support during the initial phase of this research. We are grateful to Pedro Simpson-Junior, Danielle Matias, Cesar Luiz Prado, Marcos Soares, Elisa Brusi and Moara Pedrosa for valuable field assistance. We also thank the administration of Estação Ecológica de Águas Emendadas and the Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia of the University of Brasília for logistic support.

References

  1. Bromley J, Brouwer J, Barker AP, Gaze SR, Valentin C (1997) The role of surface water redistribution in an area of patterned vegetation in a semi-arid environment, south-west Nigeria. J Hydrol 198:1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bucci SJ, Goldstein G, Meinzer FC, Scholz FG, Franco AC, Bustamante M (2004) Functional convergence in hydraulic architecture and water relations of tropical savanna trees: from leaf to whole plant. Tree Physiol 24:891–899PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Caylor KK, Shugart HH (2004) Simulated productivity of heterogeneous patches in southern African savanna landscapes using a canopy productivity model. Landsc Ecol 19:401–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Caylor KK, Shugart HH, Dowty PR, Smith TM (2003) Tree spacing along the Kalahari transect in southern Africa. J Arid Environ 54:281–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Caylor KK, Dowty PR, Shugart HH, Ringrose S (2004) Relationship between small-scale structural variability and simulated vegetation productivity across a regional moisture gradient in southern Africa. Glob Change Biol 10:374–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dale MRT (1999) Spatial pattern analysis in plant ecology, 1st edn. (Cambridge studies in ecology) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 1–30Google Scholar
  7. Diniz-Filho JAF, Bini LM, Hawkins BA (2003) Spatial autocorrelation and red herrings in geographical ecology. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 12:53–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eastman JR (2003) IDRISI Kilimanjaro. Clark Labs, Clark University, Worcester, Mass.Google Scholar
  9. Eiten G (1972) The Cerrado vegetation of Brazil. Bot Rev 38:201–341Google Scholar
  10. Frost P, Medina E, Menaut JC, Solbrig O, Swift M, Walker B (1986) Responses of savannas to stress and disturbance. Biology international, spec ss 10. IUBS, ParisGoogle Scholar
  11. Goodland R, Pollard R (1973) The Brazilian cerrado vegetation: a fertility gradient. J Ecol 61:219–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Griffiths DH, Baker RD (1993) Two-dimensional resistivity imaging and modeling in areas of complex geology. J Appl Geophys 29:211–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Higgins SI, Bond WJ, Troollope WSW (2000) Fire, resprouting and variability: a recipe for grass-tree coexistence in savanna. J Ecol 88:213–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hillerislambers R, Rietkerk M, Van Den Bosch F, Prins HHT, De Kroons H (2001) Vegetation pattern formation in semi-arid grazing systems. Ecology 82(1):50–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hodnett MG, Tomasella J (2002) Marked differences between van Genuchten soil water-retention parameters for temperate and tropical soils: new water-retention pedo-transfer functions developed for tropical soils. Geoderma 108:155–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hoffmann WA (1996) The effects of fire and cover on seedling establishment in a neotropical savanna. J Ecol 84:383–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jackson PC, Meinzer FC, Bustamante M, Goldstein G, Franco A, Rundel PW, Caldas L, Igler E, Causin F (1999) Partitioning of soil water among tree species in a Brazilian Cerrado ecosystem. Tree Physiol 19:717–724PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Jackson RB et al (2005) Trading water for carbon with biological carbon sequestration. Science 310:1944–1947PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jeltsch F, Weber GE, Grimm V (2000) Ecological buffering mechanisms in savannas: a unifying theory of long-term tree-grass coexistence. Plant Ecol 161:161–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jipp PH, Nepstad DC, Cassel DK (1998) Deep soil moisture storage and transpiration in forest and pastures of seasonally dry Amazonia. Clim Change 39:395–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kunstler G, Curt T, Lepart J (2004) Spatial pattern of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and oak (Quercus pubescens Mill.) seedlings in natural pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) woodlands. Eur J For Res 123:331–337Google Scholar
  22. Legendre P, Legendre L (1998) Numerical ecology (developments in environmental modelling 20), 2nd edn. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 707–785Google Scholar
  23. Legendre P, Dale MRT, Fortin MJ, Gurevitch J, Hohn M, Myers D (2002) The consequences of spatial structure for the design and analysis of ecological field. Ecography 25:601–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lousada EO, Campos JEG (2005) Proposta de modelos hidrogeológicos conceituais aplicados aos aqüíferos da região do Distrito Federal. Rev Bras Geociênc 35(3):407–414Google Scholar
  25. Meinzer F (2003) Functional convergence in plant responses to the environment. Oecologia 134:1–11PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Metropolis N, Ulam S (1949) The Monte Carlo method. J Am Stat Assoc 44:335CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Moreira AG (2000) Effects of fire protection on savanna structure in Central Brazil. J Biogeogr 27:1021–1029CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Oliveira PE (1998) Fenologia e biologia reprodutiva das espécies de cerrado. In: Sano SM, Almeida SP (eds) Cerrado: ambiente e flora. EMBRAPA-CPAC, Planaltina, Brazil, pp 169–192Google Scholar
  29. Oliveira RS, Bezerra L, Davidson EA, Pinto F, Klink CA, Nepstad DC, Moreira A (2005) Deep root function in soil water dynamics in Cerrado savannas of central Brazil. Funct Ecol 19:574–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Oliveira-Filho AT, Ratter JA (2002) Vegetation physiognomies and woody flora of the Cerrado biome. In: Oliveira OS, Marquis RJ (eds) The cerrados of Brazil: ecology and natural history of a neotropical savanna. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 91–120Google Scholar
  31. Oliveira-Filho AT, Shepherd GJ, Martins FR, Stubblebine WH (1989) Environmental factors affecting physiognomic and floristic variation in an area of Cerrado in central Brazil. J Trop Ecol 5:413–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Privette JL, Tian Y, Roberts G, Scholes RJ, Wang Y, Caylor KK, Frost P, Mukelabai M (2004) Vegetation structure characteristics and relationships of Kalahari woodlands and savannas. Glob Change Biol 10:281–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rangel TFLVB, Diniz-Filho JAF, Bini LM (2005) SAM v.1.1—spatial analysis in macroecology (software and user’s guide)Google Scholar
  34. Rawitscher F (1948) The water economy of the vegetation of the ‘Campos Cerrados’ in southern Brazil. J Ecol 36:237–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Reatto A, Correia JR, Spera ST (1998) Solos do bioma Cerrado: aspectos pedológicos. In: Sano SM, Almeida SP (eds) Cerrado: ambiente e flora. EMBRAPA-CPAC, Planaltina, Brazil, pp 47–86Google Scholar
  36. Ribeiro LF, Tabarelli M (2002) A structural gradient in cerrado vegetation of Brazil: changes in woody plant density, species richness, life history and plant composition. J Trop Ecol 18:775–794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rodriguez-Iturbe I, Porporato A, Laio F, Ridolfi L (2001) Plants in water-controlled ecosystems: active role in hydrologic processes and responses to water stress. I. Scope and general outline. Adv Water Res 24:695–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rundell PW, Jarrell WM (1991) Water in the environment. In: Pearcy RW, Ehleringer J, Mooney HA, Rundel PW (eds) Plant physiological ecology: field methods and instrumentation. Chapman and Hall, USA, pp 29–56Google Scholar
  39. San José JJ, Fariñas MR, Rosales J (1991) Spatial patterns of trees and structuring factors in a Trachypogon savanna of the Orinoco Llanos. Biotropica 23(2):114–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sankaran M, Hanan NP, Scholes RJ et al. (2005) Determinants of woody cover in African savannas. Nature 438:846–849PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sarmiento G (1984) The ecology of neotropical savannas. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  42. Schenk HJ, Jackson RB (2002) Rooting depths, lateral root spreads and below-ground/above-ground allometries of plants in water-limited ecosystems. J Ecol 90:480–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Scholes RJ, Dowty PR, Caylor K, Parsons DAB, Frost PGH, Shugart HH (2002) Trends in savanna structure and composition along an aridity gradient in the Kalahari. J Veg Sci 13:419–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Scholes RJ, Frost PGH, Tian Y (2004) Canopy structure in savannas along a moisture gradient on Kalahari sands. Glob Change Biol 10:292–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Seaton WJ, Burbey TJ (2002) Evaluation of two-dimensional resistivity methods in a fractures crystalline-rock terrace. J Appl Geophys 51:21–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shaaban FF, Shaaban FA (2001) Use of two-dimensional electric resistivity and ground penetration radar for archeological prospecting at the ancient capital of Egypt. J Afr Earth Sci 33:661–671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Silva LBP (2003) Disponibilidade de água para as plantas e evapotranspiração em um cerrado denso, um cerrado strictu sensu e uma pastagem plantada. Master’s thesis, Universidade de Brasília, BrazilGoogle Scholar
  48. Silva EM, Azevedo JA (2002) Influência do período de centrifugação na curva de retenção de água em solo de Cerrado. Pesq Agropec Bras 37(10):1487–1494Google Scholar
  49. Silva JF, Zambrano A, Fariñas MR (2001) Increase in the woody component of seasonal savannas under different fire regimes in Calabozo, Venezuela. J Biogeogr 28:977–983CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tabbagh A, Dabas M, Hesse A, Panissod C (2000) Soil resistivity: a non-invasive tool to map soil structure horizonation. Geoderma 97:393–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Topp GC, Davis JL, Annan AP (1980) Electromagnetic determination of soil water content: measurement in coaxial transmission lines. Water Resour Res 16:574–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Van Genuchten MT (1980) A closed-form equation for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44:892–898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Weber GE, Jeltsch F, Van Rooyen N, Milton SJ (1998) Simulated long-term vegetation response to grazing heterogeneity in semi-arid rangelands. J Appl Ecol 35 (5):687–699. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2664.1998.355341 Google Scholar
  54. Williams RJ, Duff GA, Bowman DM, et al. (1996) Variation in the composition and structure of tropical savannas as a function of rainfall and soil texture along a large-scale climatic gradient in the Northern Territory, Australia. J Biogeogr 23:747–756CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joice N. Ferreira
    • 1
    • 4
  • Mercedes Bustamante
    • 1
  • Diana C. Garcia-Montiel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kelly K. Caylor
    • 3
  • Eric A. Davidson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EcologyUniversity of BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  2. 2.Woods Hole Research CenterFalmouthUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  4. 4.Embrapa Amazônia OrientalBelémBrazil

Personalised recommendations