Freis, M. (2019): <b>Der Einfluss von Stickstoff- und/oder Phosphatdüngung auf Blatteigenschaften und Herbivorie an holzigen Jungpflanzen in tropischen Bergwäldern Südecuadors</b> University of Goettingen, <i>bachelor thesis</i>
Der Einfluss von Stickstoff- und/oder Phosphatdüngung auf Blatteigenschaften und Herbivorie an holzigen Jungpflanzen in tropischen Bergwäldern Südecuadors
The anthropogenic deposition of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) into terrestrial ecosystems has an influence on the leaf morphology and leaf properties of vegetation as well as on interactions within an ecosystem. In this context, the increased availability of nutrients has an impact on herbivory. In addition to the availability of nutrients, sea level has also been shown to influence these parameters. The shown work deals with the quantification of herbivory under the influence of N- and P-fertilization and differences in certain leaf parameters (leaf area, specific leaf area, leaf toughness, leaf nitrogen content and leaf area loss) between three altitudinal levels (1000 m, 2000 m, 3000 m). The study area was located in a tropical mountain rainforest in Southern Ecuador. In a nutrient manipulation experiment (NUMEX) 48 plots within the study areas were fertilized with either N, P or NP twice a year. Per plot 50 leaves were collected, examined for various parameters and then subjected to a nutrient analysis. The aim of this study was to figure out to what extent sea level influences the leaf morphology, nitrogen content and the leaf area loss of the vegetation within the control areas and to what extent fertilization with nitrogen, phosphorus or both elements changes these leaf properties. Finally, it was investigated whether possible changes in feeding rates resulted from an increased leaf nitrogen content. Sea level had a major influence on leaf strength, which increased with increasing height gradients, and on the specific leaf area and the mean leaf area, which decreased with increasing sea level. Many of the values differed significantly between the altitudinal levels. This suggests that not only the soil becomes nutrient-poorer with rising sea level, but also that the mineralisation of the few available nutrients is slower than at lower altitudes. The climatic environmental conditions, which become more extreme as the sea level rises, also explain the changes in the leaf parameters mentioned. Fertilisation instead did not have an influence as strong as sea level on the studied parameters. There were hardly any significant differences between the plots with different fertilisation. Since tropical forests are considered nutrient-limited, the addition of nitrogen led to the formation of large and soft leaves, which was expected. The correlations between leaf nitrogen content and SLA or leaf strength were positive and significant. Leaf area loss did not correlate with nitrogen content, which was unexpected. This can be attributed to the fact that plants show highly species-specific reactions to nutrient availability, which manifest themselves in very different plastic changes in growth and defence mechanisms against herbivore species. In this work a strong influence of the sea level on the leaf parameters could be determined. An increasing influence of fertilization on the feeding rate of herbivorous species was not found.
| seedlings | NUMEX | San Francisco | Bombuscaro | Cajanuma | herbivory | leaf properties |