A mesocosm study using four native Hawaiian plants to assess nitrogen accumulation under varying surface water nitrogen concentrations

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Accumulation of nitrogen (N) by native Hawaiian riparian plants from surface water was measured under a controlled experimental mesocosm setting. Four species, Cladium jamaicense, Cyperus javanicus, Cyperus laevigatus, and Cyperus polystachyos were tested for their ability to survive in coconut fiber coir log media with exposure to differing N concentrations. It was hypothesized that the selected species would have significantly different tissue total nitrogen (TN) concentrations, aboveground biomass, and TN accumulation rates because of habitat preference and physiological growth differences. A general linear model (GLM) analysis of variance (ANOVA) determined that species differences accounted for the greatest proportion of variance in tissue TN concentration, aboveground biomass growth, and accumulation rates, when compared with the other main effects (i.e. N concentration, time) and their interactions. A post hoc test of means demonstrated that C. jamaicense had significantly higher tissue TN concentration, aboveground biomass growth, and accumulation rates than the other species under all N concentrations. It was also hypothesized that tissue TN concentrations and biomass growth would increase in plants exposed to elevated N concentrations, however data did not support this hypothesis. Nitrogen accumulation rates by species were controlled by differences in plant biomass growth.

Keywords: Cladium, coir logs, Cyperus, Hawai'i, nitrogen accumulation, streams

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