Plant and Soil

, Volume 437, Issue 1–2, pp 117–135 | Cite as

Tree size and leaf traits determine the fertility island effect in Prosopis pallida dryland forest in Northern Peru

  • Pablo C. SalazarEmail author
  • Rafael M. Navarro-Cerrillo
  • Nora Grados
  • Gastón Cruz
  • Vidal Barrón
  • Rafael Villar
Regular Article



To assess the fertility island effect of Prosopis pallida in the North Peruvian dry forests and analyze if it is influenced by tree size and structural and/or chemical leaf traits.


We measured the soil nutrient concentrations under and outside the tree canopy in five populations that differ in mean annual temperature and annual rainfall in North Peru. We also measured tree size (height, stem diameter, and crown area), leaf structure (leaf mass per area (LMA) and leaf dry matter content), and leaf nutrient concentrations (C, N, P, Mn, Fe, Cu, and Zn).


The concentration of most soil nutrients was higher under the P. pallida canopy. Tree size affected positively the soil C, N, and P concentrations, while leaf structural traits such as LMA were negatively related to the soil C, N, and P concentrations. The relationships between the nutrient concentrations in the leaf and soil were only significant for P and Mn. The tree size effect was greater in those populations where the temperature was lower, suggesting the fertility island effect can be increased or weakened by climatic factors.


P. pallida have a significant though limited fertility island effect regulated by plant traits and influenced by climatic factors.


Algarrobo Leaf traits LMA Nutrient Nitrogen Tree size Phosphorous 



We thank the biologist Luis Urbina and the bachelor students Marco Balcazar and Lorena Huiman for their help during field data acquisition.


This research was funded by Fondo para la Innovación, Ciencia y Tecnología (146-FINCyT-IB-2013), currently known as Programa Nacional de Innovación para la Competitividad y Productividad INNOVATE PERU. RV was supported by the Spanish MEC project DIVERBOS (CGL2011-30285-C02-02) and ECO-MEDIT (CGL2014-53236-R) and European FEDER funds. RMNC was supported by the Spanish MEC project DIVERBOS (CGL2011-30285-C02-02) and QUERCUSAT (CLG2013-40790-R).

Compliance with ethical standards

Declarations of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11104_2019_3965_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de IngenieríaUniversidad de PiuraPiuraPeru
  2. 2.Dpto. Ingeniería Forestal, Laboratorio de Dendrocronología. DendrodatLab- ERSAFUniversidad de CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de AgronomíaUniversidad de CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  4. 4.Área de EcologíaUniversidad de CórdobaCórdobaSpain

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