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Legumes and non legumes decomposition in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest in a gradient of elevation: implications on carbon and nitrogen dynamics

Grant number: 13/09550-3
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 15, 2013
Effective date (End): March 14, 2014
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Luiz Antonio Martinelli
Grantee:Luciana Della Coletta
Supervisor abroad: Stephan Hättenschwiler
Home Institution: Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle & Evolutive (CEFE), France  

Abstract

Tropical forests are important biomes by several things, among them, they are important reservoirs of carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and water. In Brazil, at Sao Paulo State, the coastal Atlantic Forest runs along an altitudinal gradient from near seal level (Lowland Forest) up to more than 1,000m (Montane Forest). Soil carbon and nitrogen stocks as well as above ground biomass are higher at the Montante Forest in relation to the Lowland Forest. In contrast, annual fluxes of N2O and riverine N output are higher lower altitudes, although. Therefore, it seems that lower temperature at higher altitude limits N transfer between different reservoirs, which in turn leads to higher N stocks. In this study we test if the litter decomposition of Fabaceae and non Fabaceae leaves at higher altitudes also decomposes slower than at low altitudes. At the same time we also test if Fabaceae leaves decompose faster than non Fabaceae leaves due to the higher N content and lower C:N ratio of the former in comparison to the later. Preliminary results indicate that both hypothesis seems to be right. The experiment, as well as some analyses are being finalized. After finishing the same, the student will be six-month in the "Functional Ecology Department", at the "Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE)", located in Montpellier, France, in the institute our objective are analyze and interpret the data obtained experimentally. Thus, the realization of this foreign internship, with Prof. Dr. Stephan Hättenschwiler, will contribute significantly to understanding the tropical forest functioning and litter decomposition. (AU)