Woody species diversity influences productivity and soil nutrient availability in tropical plantations

Firn, J., Erskine, P. D. and Lamb, D. (2007) Woody species diversity influences productivity and soil nutrient availability in tropical plantations. Oecologia, 154 3: 521-533. doi:10.1007/s00442-007-0850-8

Author Firn, J.
Erskine, P. D.
Lamb, D.
Title Woody species diversity influences productivity and soil nutrient availability in tropical plantations
Journal name Oecologia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0029-8549
Publication date 2007-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00442-007-0850-8
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 154
Issue 3
Start page 521
End page 533
Total pages 13
Editor Koerner, C.
Osenberg, C. W.
Ehleringer, J. R.
Brandl, R.
Place of publication Germany
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Subject C1
270708 Conservation and Biodiversity
770707 Rehabilitation/reafforestation
Abstract We investigated the relationship between plant diversity and ecological function (production and nutrient cycling) in tropical tree plantations. Old plantations (65-72 years) of four different species, namely Araucaria cunninghamii, Agathis robusta, Toona ciliata and Flindersia brayleyana, as well as natural secondary forest were examined at Wongabel State Forest, in the wet tropics region of Queensland, Australia. Two young plantations (23 years) of Araucaria cunninghamii and Pinus caribaea were also examined. The close proximity of the older plantations and natural forests meant they had similar edaphic and climatic conditions. All plantations had been established as monocultures, but had been colonised by a range of native woody plants from the nearby rainforest. The extent to which this had occurred varied with the identity of the plantation species (from 2 to 17 species in 0.1 ha blocks). In many cases these additional species had grown up and joined the forest canopy. This study is one of the few to find a negative relationship between overstorey plant diversity and productivity. The conversion of natural forest with highly productive, low-diversity gymnosperm-dominated plantations (young and old Araucaria cunninghamii and Pinus caribaea) was found to be associated with lower soil nutrient availability (approximately five times less phosphorus and 2.5 times less nitrogen) and lower soil pH (mean = 6.28) compared to the other, less productive plantations. The dominant effects of two species, Araucaria cunninghamii and Hodgkinsonia frutescens, indicate that ecosystem functions such as production and nutrient availability are not determined solely by the number of species, but are more likely to be determined by the characteristics of the species present. This suggests that monoculture plantations can be used to successfully restore some functions (e.g. nutrient cycling and production), but that the level to which such functions can be restored will depend upon the species chosen and site conditions.
Keyword Ecology
forest restoration
species richness
ecosystem function
Plant Diversity
Ecosystem Function
Nitrogen Availability
Grassland Ecosystems
Current Knowledge
Tree Plantations
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Tue, 19 Feb 2008, 01:44:40 EST