Buttress form of the central African rain forest tree Microberlinia bisulcata, and its possible role in nutrient acquisition

Newbery, David McClintock; Schwan, Sarah; Chuyong, Georg; van der Burgt, Xander (2009). Buttress form of the central African rain forest tree Microberlinia bisulcata, and its possible role in nutrient acquisition. Trees - Structure and Function, 23(2), pp. 219-234. Berlin: Springer-Verlag 10.1007/s00468-008-0270-3

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Buttressing is a trait special to tropical trees but explanations for its occurrence remain inconclusive. The two main hypotheses are that they provide structural support and/or promote nutrient acquisition. Studies of the first are common but the second has received much less attention. Architectural measurements were made on adult and juvenile trees of the ectomycorrhizal species Microberlinia bisulcata, in Korup (Cameroon). Buttressing on this species is highly distinctive with strong lateral extension of surface roots of the juveniles leading to a mature buttress system of a shallow spreading form on adults. This contrasts with more vertical buttresses, closer to the stem, found on many other tropical tree species. No clear relationship between main buttress and large branch distribution was found. Whilst this does not argue against the essential structural role of buttresses for these very large tropical trees, the form on M. bisulcata does suggest a likely second role, that of aiding nutrient acquisition. At the Korup site, with its deep sandy soils of very low phosphorus status, and where most nutrient cycling takes place in a thin surface layer of fine roots and mycorrhizas, it appears that buttress form could develop from soil-surface root exploration for nutrients by juvenile trees. It may accordingly allow M. bisulcata to attain the higher greater competitive ability, faster growth rate, and maximum tree size that it does compared with other co-occurring tree species. For sites across the tropics in general, the degree of shallowness and spatial extension of buttresses of the dominant species is hypothesized to increase with decreasing nutrient availability.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Vegetation Ecology (discontinued)

UniBE Contributor:

Newbery, David McClintock and Chuyong, Georg

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0931-1890

Publisher:

Springer-Verlag

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:21

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2018 14:45

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s00468-008-0270-3

Web of Science ID:

000264136900003

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Buttresses; Nutrient exploration; Rain forest; Structural support; Surface rooting

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.36303

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/36303 (FactScience: 204320)

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