Plant and Soil

, Volume 382, Issue 1–2, pp 301–315 | Cite as

Aluminum toxicity to tropical montane forest tree seedlings in southern Ecuador: response of biomass and plant morphology to elevated Al concentrations

  • Agnes Rehmus
  • Moritz Bigalke
  • Carlos Valarezo
  • Julio Mora Castillo
  • Wolfgang Wilcke
Regular Article

Abstract

Aims

In acid tropical forest soils (pH <5.5) increased mobility of aluminum might limit aboveground productivity. Therefore, we evaluated Al phytotoxicity of three native tree species of tropical montane forests in southern Ecuador.

Methods

An hydroponic dose-response experiment was conducted. Seedlings of Cedrela odorata L., Heliocarpus americanus L., and Tabebuia chrysantha (Jacq.) G. Nicholson were treated with 0, 300, 600, 1200, and 2400 μM Al and an organic layer leachate. Dose-response curves were generated for root and shoot morphologic properties to determine effective concentrations (EC).

Results

Shoot biomass and healthy leaf area decreased by 44 % to 83 % at 2400 μM Al, root biomass did not respond (C. odorata), declined by 51 % (H. americanus), or was stimulated at low Al concentrations of 300 μM (T. chrysantha). EC10 (i.e. reduction by 10 %) values of Al for total biomass were 315 μM (C. odorata), 219 μM (H. americanus), and 368 μM (T. chrysantha). Helicarpus americanus, a fast growing pioneer tree species, was most sensitive to Al toxicity. Negative effects were strongest if plants grew in organic layer leachate, indicating limitation of plant growth by nutrient scarcity rather than Al toxicity.

Conclusions

Al toxicity occurred at Al concentrations far above those in native organic layer leachate.

Keywords

Aluminum toxicity Tropical forest tree seedlings Dose-response curves Organic layer leachate 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agnes Rehmus
    • 1
  • Moritz Bigalke
    • 1
  • Carlos Valarezo
    • 2
  • Julio Mora Castillo
    • 3
  • Wolfgang Wilcke
    • 1
  1. 1.Geographic InstituteUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Dirección General de InvestigacionesUniversidad Nacional de Loja, Ciudadela Universitaria Guillermo FalconíLojaEcuador
  3. 3.Institute of SilvicultureTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

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