Plant functional traits influence the decomposition of their own residues occurring underneath individual plant species. Arthropods associated to litter are critical components influencing decomposition. Nevertheless, few studies have established a direct relation between plant traits and belowground arthropods. To address this relation at the individual plant species scale, this study was conducted in the Guánica dry forest, Puerto Rico, by selecting five tree species and ten isolated trees/species where variations due to neighbor trees are reduced. Mature green leaves, litter, and associated arthropods were sampled from November 2004 through September 2005. Collected arthropods were counted and classified, and abundances were standardized to ind/m2. Arthropod abundance did not differ among plant species, but richness, and species and trophic composition were different among the plant species. Predators, omnivores, and sucking herbivores showed a similar species composition among plant species, while detritivore was the only trophic groups with a different species composition among plants. These results are further supported by canonical correspondence analysis results showing that detritivore arthropod species composition covaries with the physicochemical characteristics of mature green leaves of plants. These findings support that the plant idiosyncratic characteristics affect the structure of litter/humus arthropods up to the first consumer level.
Part of the book: Tropical Forests
We examined the soil microbial community structure and soil enzyme potential within three dominant tree species at a tropical dry forest during five months. Changes within microbial community in response to sampling periods and tree species were evaluated using fatty acid methyl-ester and enzymes potential. We found that both tree species and precipitation determined microbial community structure and enzyme potential. This is the first study that provides insight into the soil microbial community at Guánica Dry Forest, a valuable contribution that will help elucidate strategies for better management and protection of the soil biota of the area.
Part of the book: Extremophilic Microbes and Metabolites
This study evaluated the effect that tree species traits and wet/dry periods display on soil microbial communities in a tropical dry forest in Puerto Rico. Understanding the ecological role of soil microorganisms in tropical dry forests and how they relate to different tree species is necessary to protect these fragile forest ecosystems. Thus, by using 454 pyrosequencing, we explored how microbial diversity was affected by dominant tree species during the wettest and driest periods at the Guánica Dry Forest. We found that 9 out of 17 phyla were more abundant during the dry period demonstrating that soil communities have adapted to historically low rainfall patterns. The most abundant phyla during both periods were Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. During the dry period, Actinobacteria increased significantly (p < 0.0001), whereas Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes decreased significantly (p < 0.0001; p < 0.001). Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) also demonstrated that soil microbes are shaped by wet and dry periods, thus axis 1 of CCA explained 80% of the variation. This study offers baseline information in order to help elucidate how microbial diversity is affected by climate change in tropical areas and extrapolate this information to agricultural areas in order to develop better management practices.
Part of the book: Microorganisms
Plant diversity is a key factor influencing belowground dynamics including microclimate and decomposer arthropod communities. This study addresses the effect of individual plant species on belowground arthropods by focusing on seasonal variations in precipitation, temperature and arthropods along the vertical organic matter profile. In the Guanica Dry Forest, Puerto Rico, microclimate was described and 5 plant species and 10 trees/species were selected. Under each tree, for one year, temperature was measured and samples collected along the organic matter fractions. Collected arthropods were standardized to ind/m2, identified to Order/Family and assigned to morphotypes. The annual temperature pattern was similar for all species and OM fractions. Arthropod abundance was similar among plant species and higher in humus than in litter fractions. Richness and species composition were different among plant species and OM fractions. All plant species and OM fractions showed low arthropod abundance and richness, and similar arthropod species composition in the dry season, while in the wet season abundance and richness were higher and species composition varied across plant species and OM fractions. These data suggest that arthropods form specific assemblages under plant species and stages of decomposition that, during the dry season, represent a subgroup adapted to extreme environmental conditions.
Part of the book: Arthropods