Understanding the Influences of Spatial Patterns on N Availability Within the Brazilian Amazon Forest

Abstract

Nitrogen variations at different spatial scales and integrated across functional groups were addressed for lowland tropical forests in the Brazilian Amazon as follows: (1) how does N availability vary across the region over different spatial scales (regional × landscape scale); (2) how are these variations in N availability integrated across plant functional groups (legume × non-legume trees). Leaf N, P, and Ca concentrations as well the leaf N isotope ratios (δ15N) from a large set of legume and non-legume tree species were measured. Legumes had higher foliar N/Ca ratios than non-legumes, consistent with the high energetic costs in plant growth associated with higher foliar P/Ca ratios found in legumes than in non-legumes. At the regional level, foliar δ15N decreased with increasing rainfall. At the landscape level, N availability was higher in the forests on clayey soils on the plateau than in forests on sandier soils. The isotope as well as the non-isotope data relationships here documented, explain to a large extent the variation in δ15N signatures across gradients of rainfall and soil. Although at the regional level, the precipitation regime is a major determinant of differences in N availability, at the landscape level, under the same precipitation regime, soil type seems to be a major factor influencing the availability of N in the Brazilian Amazon forest.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Vilany Carneiro and Everaldo Pereira (INPA, Manaus) for their valuable help with plant identification in São Gabriel and Manaus sites. We thank R. Delfini for field and lab assistance and M.A. Perez, F. Fracassi (CENA/USP), and C. Cook (University of Utah) for lab support. We acknowledge the technical support from Dr. P.B. de Camargo, Dr. M.Z. Moreira, and Dr. Takashi Muraoka (CENA/USP). We thank the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA) in Manaus and the office of LBA project for logistical support. We thank IBAMA for access to sites in the FLONA Tapajós in Santarém and in São Gabriel da Cachoeira. This study was supported by grants from FAPESP (project no. 01/09984–6) and NASA to project CD-02 in the LBA Terrestrial Ecology program.

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Correspondence to Gabriela Bielefeld Nardoto.

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Nardoto, G.B., Ometto, J.P.H.B., Ehleringer, J.R. et al. Understanding the Influences of Spatial Patterns on N Availability Within the Brazilian Amazon Forest. Ecosystems 11, 1234–1246 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-008-9189-1

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Keywords

  • nitrogen
  • lowland tropical forest
  • nitrogen stable isotopes
  • Amazonia
  • foliar phosphorus
  • terra-firme forest
  • campinarana forest