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Understory palms as nutrient traps: a hypothesis
Brenesia (1993)
  • James W. Raich, University of Florida
Data obtained in the humid lowlands of Costa Rica suggest that a common understory palm, Asterogyne martiana, is a nutrient trap. It is hypothesized that Asterogyne palms increase their competitiveness in the mature forest understory by capturing nutrients cycling in precipitation and litterfall. The morphology of Asterogyne is such that litter and precipitation falling on a palm is funneled to the center of the crown. Nutrients contained in the litter and precipitation are diverted down the stein directly to the rooting zone of the palm. The morpholo· gy of Asterogyne martiana, then, appears to enhance the nutrient-capturing abilities of the palm, and this may help explain why the palm is so successful in the mature forest understory.
  • Asterogyne,
  • Palmae tropics,
  • nutrient cycling,
  • Costa Rica,
  • tree architecture,
  • stem flow
Publication Date
Publisher Statement
Permission to post granted by Museo Nacional de Costa Rica.
Citation Information
James W. Raich. "Understory palms as nutrient traps: a hypothesis" Brenesia Vol. 21 (1993) p. 119 - 129
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