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Litter–trapping tank bromeliads in five different forests: carbon and nutrient pools and fluxes


Aguilar Cruz, Yonatan; García-Franco, José G.; Zotz, Gerhard (2021), Litter–trapping tank bromeliads in five different forests: carbon and nutrient pools and fluxes, Dryad, Dataset,


Bromeliads are the most abundant litter–trapping plants in Neotropical forest canopies. By intercepting litter, bromeliads obtain and retain nutrients before they reach the pedosphere. Here, we analyzed the litter captured and stored by tank bromeliads (TB) in five different forests along an elevation gradient in Mexico. Among those forests, carbon and nutrient pools and nitrogen fluxes in TB were estimated in a mangrove (MF) and a semi–deciduous tropical forest (SDTF). The composition of the litter trapped by TB along the gradient was similar to forest litterfall and was mainly composed of leaves. Most of the litter was captured in the dry season and we found a significant effect of projected plant area and the interaction between month and site on bromeliad litter capture. Moreover, litter stored in TB increased exponentially with projected plant area and differed between three studied species. In the MF (with ca. 2,700 TB ha-1), barely ca. 1% of annual litterfall is trapped by these plants, but even in the SDTF, with >10,000 TB ha-1, only ca. 2.4% is captured. We found that carbon and nitrogen pools in TB were small and represented < 1% of the carbon and nitrogen stored in forest aboveground biomass. Furthermore, the residence time of litter trapped in TB was not particularly large and was similar to that of litter on the forest floor. In light of our results, we conclude that in the studied forests the effect of TB on the forest carbon and nutrient cycle is negligible.


Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Award: 408928

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Award: 91569882

Heinz Neumüller Stiftung