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The role of legumes tree in the nutrient cycling in an Atlantic Forest of the State Park Serra do Mar, Santa Virginia, State of São Paulo, Brazil

Grant number: 10/13593-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2011
Effective date (End): February 28, 2013
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Luiz Antonio Martinelli
Grantee:Sílvia Rafaela Machado Lins
Home Institution: Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The Atlantic Tropical Forest occurred mainly along the Brazilian coast line. Due to large variations in climatic conditions and north-south latitudes this forest is characterized by a high biodiversity. Among the several botanical families present in this biome, the Fabaceae family has a significant ecological role not only due its abundance and wide distribution, but as well as for having an important role in the terrestrial nitrogen cycle. The N input in a reactive form determines the functioning and also influence the structure of an ecosystem. Studies conducted by our group have shown that Atlantic tropical forests located in lower altitudes has a more open nitrogen cycle, while, the same forest located at higher altitude (1000m) has a more closed nitrogen cycle, although their soils are richer than soils at lower altitudes. Interestingly enough, the number of trees of the Fabaceae family is higher at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes. This seems paradoxical because the existence of these trees would indicate a larger input of nitrogen leading to a more open nitrogen cycle. Under this scenario the main objective of this project is to investigate the role of Fabaceaes on the nitrogen and other nutrients cycles in two Atlantic forests, with distinct characteristics of the nitrogen cycle. One with a open nitrogen cycle located a at 100m of altitude and another with a closed nitrogen cycle located at 1000 m of altitude.