Revista de Biología Tropical
version ISSN 0034-7744
CORDERO S, Roberto A. Effect of two natural light regimes and nutrient addition on the forest herb Begonia decandra (Begoniaceae). Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2000, vol.48, n.2-3, pp. 579-586. ISSN 0034-7744.
The effect of two natural light-growing conditions (understory versus light gaps) and the interaction with nutrient availability (through fertilization) was studied in the understory herb Begonia decandra, in the Luquillo Experimental Forest in Puerto Rico. Sixteen potted plants obtained from cuttings were randomly chosen and distributed in each of eighth forest environments (four light gaps and four understories), for a total of 128 plants. Fertilizer was applied to half of the plants in each site. After seven months in the two given microenvironments, increased light and fertilization resulted in greater growth and some changes in the biomass allocation patterns. All measured variables responded similarly to reported changes for tree seedlings and saplings from other tropical and subtropical regions. Total growth parameters (height, biomass and leaf area) were very sensitive to increases in the main resource (light). The addition of nutrients treatments were less important in producing changes in the allocation variables (root to shoot ratio, leaf area ratio, and specific leaf mass) under conditions of high light availability. Changes due to nutrient levels were relatively greater on plants grown under understory conditions. Also, small light differences among sites can cause significant changes in the variables related to total growth. Lastly, plant mortality in the nutrient treatments was found to be independent of mortality in two forest light environments. Some hypotheses about resource acquisition and plant growth are not supported by this data.
Keywords : Begonia; biomass allocation; canopy gaps; plant mortality; understory herb.