Nutrient content in Quercus ilex canopies: Seasonal and spatial variation within a catchment

Santiago Sabaté, Anna Sala, Carlos A. Gracia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Spatial and temporal changes in canopy nutrient content were studied in 1988 and 1989 in a Mediterranean Quercus ilex ssp. ilex L. forest in north-eastern Spain. Sampling was conducted in parallel at two sites which represent endpoints along a slope gradient within a small catchment (ridge top at 975 m and valley bottom at 700 m). Deeper soils resulted in significantly higher N and P concentrations, and N content on a leaf area basis at the valley bottom site. In contrast, K concentration in leaves was significantly higher at the ridge top site, where soil K concentration was also higher. At both sites, N and P content on a leaf area basis was highest at the top of the canopy, where leaf area is highest. N resorption efficiency decreased from top to bottom of the canopy. Results suggested a minor role of shaded leaves as nutrient storage sites. Lower P resorption efficiency was found at the ridge top site. Seasonal changes of P and N concentration on a leaf area basis suggest P replenishment, and to a lesser degree N, during periods of lower growth activity due to low temperatures, but coinciding with higher water availability (autumn-early spring period). Thus, N and P resorption from the remaining foliage in the canopy took place, and to a larger degree at the valley bottom site, coinciding with a slightly higher leaf area index and productivity at this site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-304
Number of pages8
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995


  • Quercus ilex
  • canopy
  • nutrient content and dynamics
  • nutrient resorption


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