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The impact of bird's nest ferns on stemflow nutrient concentration in a primary rain forest, Sabah, Malaysia

  • Edgar C. Turner (a1), Jake L. Snaddon (a1), Henry R. Johnson (a1) and William A. Foster (a1)

Abstract

Bird's nest ferns (Asplenium nidus complex) (Yatabe & Murakami 2003) are common epiphytes of the Old World tropics and house a high abundance of arthropods (Ellwood & Foster 2004). Through interception and retention of leaf litter (Paoletti et al. 1991, Piggott 1996, Richardson 1999), epiphytes interrupt litterfall dynamics (Clark et al. 1998, Nadkarni & Matelson 1991) and delay the return of nutrients to the forest floor (Nadkarni 1984). Precipitation percolating through the canopy as throughfall is enriched as nutrients are leached from plant surfaces (Levia & Frost 2006). Water flowing down the trunk of trees as stemflow is further enriched from prolonged contact and accumulated nutrient deposits on the trunk (Levia & Frost 2003, Liu et al. 2002). Epiphytes can alter stemflow nutrient concentrations by slowing water percolation and by nutrient uptake and release (Awasthi et al. 1995, Strigel et al. 1994).

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Corresponding author. Email: ect23@cam.ac.uk

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