Plant Ecology

, Volume 164, Issue 2, pp 157–170

Litterfall and nutrient dynamics in a montane moist evergreen broad-leaved forest in Ailao Mountains, SW China


  • Wenyao Liu
    • Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Division
  • John E.D. Fox
    • School of Environmental BiologyCurtin University of Technology
  • Zaifu Xu
    • Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Division

DOI: 10.1023/A:1021201012950

Cite this article as:
Liu, W., Fox, J.E. & Xu, Z. Plant Ecology (2003) 164: 157. doi:10.1023/A:1021201012950


Montane moist evergreen broad-leaved forest, dominated byLithocarpus and Castanopsis species,is the most extensive stand of subtropical mountain in Yunnan Province, SWChina. Litter production, standing crop of litter on forest floor and nutrientreturn patterns were studied over nine years (1991–1999) in a stand ofprimary evergreen broad-leaved forest in northern crest of the Ailao MountainRange. There were significant yearly variations in litter production, which ismainly related with the masting year of canopy species, and exceptionalphysicalevents (strong winds and snow) in the natural forest. The mean annual smalllitterfall is 7.12 t ha−1 yr−1ofwhich leaf litter account for 65% of the total litterfall. The seasonality ofsmall litterfall was bia-modal, with the main one in the late dry season(April–May) and a lesser one in early winter (October–November).Decomposition quotient value was relatively low with 0.58 for total smalllitterfall. Mean large-wood (≥ 2.5 cm in diameter) ranged from0.21 to 1.41 t ha−1 yr−1 with amean of 0.52 t ha−1 yr−1.Concentrations of most elements in leaf and twig were slightly greater in wetmonths than dry months, except for C and K. Woody litter had low N and Pconcentrations compared with the leaf and reproductive parts. Nutrient returntothe soil through small litterfall decrease in the orderC>N>Ca>K>Mg>Mn>Al>P>Fe, while nutrient reserve inlitteron the forest floor was in the declining sequenceC>N>Ca>K>Mg>P>Fe>Al>Mn.

DecompositionLitter productionNutrient returnOld growth forestSubtropicsYunnan

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003