Fertilization influences the nutrient acquisition strategy of a nomadic vine in a lowland tropical forest understory

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© 2018, Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Aims: Tropical tree and lianas in the understory are limited by soil nutrients despite growing in extremely low light. It is not known if nomadic vines are also limited by nutrients in low light conditions. Methods: We measured differences in root architecture and mycorrhizal colonization, and leaf nutrients of a nomadic vine, Philodendron fragrantissimum (Araceae), in nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilization plots in a lowland tropical moist forest in central Panama to measure potential nutrient limitation. Results: Relative to plants in control plots, leaf P concentration was 54% higher and leaf N concentration was 10% higher for plants in the P- and N-addition treatments, respectively. The N:P of leaves suggested P-limitation in the N-addition treatment and the control but not in the P-addition treatment. Root branching was highest in the P-addition treatment, and P-addition reduced mycorrhizal colonization. Conclusions: The large effect of P fertilization suggests that, like many tropical plants, P. fragrantissimum has the potential to be P-limited. Although further study is needed, we suggest that nomadic vines be added to the growth forms that respond to nutrient addition in the forest understory and conclude that nutrient-limitation seems like the rule rather than the exception in the light-limited understory.

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Plant and Soil

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