Fern leaf nutrients observation at the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF)

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Ferns are a common element of the understory of forests yet little is known about the dynamics of leaf production.  The long-term role of an individual fern in the ecosystem understory is a function of the number and size of leaves produced over time and the quality of those leaves.  Selected functional plant traits (see also LUQ186 -Fern nutrients) were measured in order to supplement non-destructive measurements and detect patterns of primary productivity of ferns in the long-term studies at the Luquillo forest where ferns have been included (eg. Fern growth and demography (LUQ75) Canopy Trimming Experiment (LUQ143 and LUQ146) and the Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot). Among the important characteristics of fern leaves in the forest understory are the area and biomass of leaves needed to calculate specific leaf area (SLA) leaf dry-matter content (LDMC) and leaf shrinkage.  Therefore a large sample of whole leaves and leaf material from several species in the Luquillo Experimental Forest understory was collected weighed and leaf area measured.  The means and regression relationships among these functional traits for species leaf type and leaf size can then be used to estimate leaf production and turnover rates in temporal studies of fern growth.

Date Range: 
1999-09-12 00:00:00 to 2009-01-10 00:00:00





Leaves of 18 species were collected and dried in a plant press and then stored in plastic bags in a dry room. Leaves that were selected were mature; free of damage and young enough to be free of any signs of epiphyll growth. A small sample was removed from the lamina of a minimum of three different leaves from different plants for each species and for different leaf types of heteromorphic species. These samples were sent to the UNH lab for processing using standard procedures to determine the percent of dry weight of carbon; nitrogen and phosphorus in foliar material.


PO4-P - automated colorimetric analysis (molybdate blue)

NH4-N - automated colorimetric analysis (phenolhypochlorite)

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University of New Hampshire standards



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