The influence of tree species on canopy soil nutrient status in a tropical lowland wet forest in Costa Rica

Catherine L. Cardelús, Michelle C. MacK, Carrie Woods, Jennie Demarco, Kathleen K. Treseder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The canopy is host to a large percentage of the flora and fauna in tropical wet forests and is distinct from the forest floor in plant richness, soil type and microclimate. In this study, we examined the influence of tree species and season on soil nutrient cycling processes in canopy soils of four tree species common to Costa Rican wet forests. We also compared the canopy soils to the associated forest floor mineral soils. Both tree species and season had strong effects on canopy soil nutrients and processes. Canopy soils from trees with high litter lignin concentrations had higher net N-mineralization rates and higher dissolved inorganic N concentrations than those with low lignin concentrations. During the dry season, net N-immobilization occurred and dissolved organic and inorganic N and available P concentrations were significantly higher than during the wet season. Overall, canopy soils had higher N levels and higher fungi + bacteria richness than forest floor mineral soils. The differences in canopy soil properties observed among tree species indicates that these species have distinct N cycles that reflect differences in both soil origin and biological controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Canopy soil
  • Discriminant function analysis
  • Organic soil
  • Tropical rain forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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