AbstractMature leaves and litterfall were collected between November 1992 and February 1993 from one to three individuals of five canopy tree species of a lower montane rain forest (LMRF) at 1850 m. and five canopy tree species of an upper montane rain forest (UMRF) at 2800 m. in the Central Andes of Colombia, to determine the concentrations and percentage retranslocation of nitrogen and phosphorus. The availability of these two nutrients was measured in the soils, by means of extracts of NH3-NH4, NO2-NO3 and PO4, and incubations of surface soil samples (0-10 cm) to measure the rates of nitrogen mineralization and nitrification. In the species of the LMRF the average concentration of N in mature leaves (1.19 % dry weight) and litterfall (0.87 %) was significantly higher than in mature leaves (0.90 %) and litterfall (0.59 %) of the tree species of the UMRF. Percentage retranslocation of N and P were not significantly different between the species of these two forests. In spite of this, P retranslocation tended to be higher in the species of the LMRF where the available P in the soil was significantly lower (3.2 ppm vs. 9.0 ppm). A negative and statistically significant correlation was found between the percentage retranslocation of P and the concentration of this element in mature leaves of 12 different tropical montane forests. These results suggest that percentage retranslocation of foliar P in montane forests, could be partially controlled by the availability of this element. There were no statistically significant correlations between percentage retranslocation of N and P and specific leaf area for the ten tree species of this study. The lack of correlation may be the result of a small sample size and should be explored with a higher number of species.
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