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Trees

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 321–327 | Cite as

Nutrient and salt relations of Pterocarpus officinalis L. in coastal wetlands of the Caribbean: assessment through leaf and soil analyses

  • Ernesto MedinaEmail author
  • Elvira Cuevas
  • Ariel Lugo
Original Paper

Abstract

Pterocarpus officinalis L. is a dominant tree of freshwater coastal wetlands in the Caribbean and the Guiana regions. It is frequently associated with mangroves in areas with high rainfall and/or surface run-off. We hypothesized that P. officinalis is a freshwater swamp species that when occurring in association with mangroves occupies low-salinity soil microsites, or alternatively that it possesses mechanisms preventing accumulation of salt in photosynthetic tissues. To test this we compared the mineral composition of soils and leaves of several species in two Pterocarpus forests in Puerto Rico associated with coastal mangroves, Sabana Seca and Punta Viento. Results indicate that (1) Sabana Seca has low soil salinity values even in the P. officinalis and Laguncularia racemosa mixed zone. In Punta Viento, salinity in the mixed zone was higher than in the Pterocarpus forest, but much lower than in the mangrove area; (2) In both forests, leaves of P. officinalis showed much lower Na concentrations than mangrove species. The K/Na ratios were 16–20 times higher in P. officinalis, indicating preferential absorption of K against Na. The mangrove fern (Acrostichum aureum) growing side by side with P. officinalis and L. racemosa in Punta Viento also revealed high Na exclusion capacity. We found an asymmetric distribution of cations in the blade and rachis of the P. officinalis compound leaves in both sites. The rachis accumulates more Na and Ca, but less Mg than the leaf blade. This sequestration of Na in the rachis prevents salt damage of photosynthetic tissue in the leaf blade.

Keywords

Pterocarpus officinalis Mangroves Caribbean Salt tolerance Cation compartmentation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

M.J. Sánchez, E. López, and M. Santiago of the USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry chemistry laboratory conducted the chemical analyses of leaf and soil samples. The reviewers of Trees helped substantially to improve a previous version of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de EcologíaIVICCaracasVenezuela
  2. 2.International Institute of Tropical ForestryUSDA Forest ServiceRío PiedrasUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of Puerto RicoRío PiedrasUSA

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