Data from: Limitation of seedling growth by potassium and magnesium supply for two ectomycorrhizal tree species of a Central African rain forest and its implication for their recruitment
Neba, Godlove Ambe; Newbery, David McClintock; Chuyong, George Bindeh (2016), Data from: Limitation of seedling growth by potassium and magnesium supply for two ectomycorrhizal tree species of a Central African rain forest and its implication for their recruitment, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.k7729
In the ectomycorrhizal caesalpiniaceous groves of southern Korup National Park, the dominant tree species, Microberlinia bisulcata, displays very poor in situ recruitment compared with its codominant, Tetraberlinia bifoliolata. The reported ex situ experiment tested whether availabilities of soil potassium and magnesium play a role. Seedlings of the two species received applications of K and Mg fertilizer in potted native soil in a local shade house, and their responses in terms of growth and nutrient concentrations were recorded over 2 years. Amended soil concentrations were also determined. Microberlinia responded strongly and positively in its growth to Mg, but less to K; Tetraberlinia responded weakly to both. Added Mg led to strongly increased Mg concentration for Microberlinia while added K changed that concentration only slightly; Tetraberlinia strongly increased its concentration of K with added K, but only somewhat its Mg concentration with added Mg. Additions of Mg and K had small but important antagonistic effects. Microberlinia is Mg-demanding and apparently Mg-limited in Korup soil; Tetraberlinia, whilst K-demanding, appeared not to be K-limited (for growth). Added K enhanced plant P concentrations of both species. Extra applied Mg may also be alleviating soil aluminum toxicity, and hence improving growth indirectly and especially to the benefit of Microberlinia. Mg appears to be essential for Microberlinia seedling growth and its low soil availability in grove soils at Korup may be an important contributing factor to its poor recruitment. Microberlinia is highly shade-intolerant and strongly light-responding, whilst Tetraberlinia is more shade-tolerant and moderately light-responding, which affords an interesting contrast with respect to their differing responses to Mg supply. The study revealed novel aspects of functional traits and likely niche-partitioning among ectomycorrhizal caesalps in African rain forests. Identifying the direct and interacting indirect effects of essential elements on tropical tree seedling growth presents a considerable challenge due the complex nexus of causes involved.