Wood volume, foliar chemical composition, and soil nitrogen turn over of Metrosideros polymorpha (Myrtaceae) stands on a slope of Mount Haleakala, Hawaii

Kanehiro Kitayama, Hannu Raitio, Dieter Mueller-Dombois, Edward A.G. Schuur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


An earlier study suggested that soils on the windward slope of Mount Haleakala are excessively waterlogged at low altitudes but become better drained upslope. We analyzed altitudinal changes in soil N turn over, vegetation mass, and foliar chemical composition of the dominant canopy species, Metrosideros polymorpha (Myrtaceae), on this slope. The basal areas and DBH2 X height (an index for volume) of woody species ≥2 m in height increased with altitude (as opposed to a general trend elsewhere), peaked at 1800 m elev., and abruptly declined above this altitude. Foliar N and P concentrations of Metrosideros showed a similar altitudinal trend with DBH2 X height values. Foliar Fe and Al concentrations steadily increased downslope, but were low again at 450 m, the lowest altitude, contrary to expectation based on waterlogging. Toxic forms of Fe and Al may retard root penetration in waterlogged soils and thus the uptake of these elements. The net N mineralization rate for topsoils incubated in situ was 78.6 μg/g/20d at 1800 m elev., while small amounts of N were immobilized at 450, 1200 and 2200 m elev. The net N mineralization rates of the topsoils, which were air-dried to their permanent wilting points and incubated at 26°C, were greater than those of the wet samples at 26°C, only for the lowest altitude. Conversely, the net N mineralization rates of the topsoils which were kept wet and incubated at the higher temperature of 26°C were greater (P < 0.1) than those of the in situ wet samples only for 1800 m elev. The rates were the same for 450 and 2200 m elev. where the soils were waterlogged and very dry, respectively; thus, N turn over was more strongly limited by moisture than by temperature in these cases. Nutrient availability improved with altitude up to 1800 m elev. in association with the moisture gradient, and appeared to be responsible for the observed pattern in vegetation mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-338
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Altitude
  • Hawaii
  • Metrosideros polymorpha
  • Mount Haleakala
  • Nitrogen cycle
  • Phytochemistry
  • Soil moisture
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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