Plant and Soil

, Volume 67, Issue 1–3, pp 359–365 | Cite as

Nitrogen in litterfall and precipitation and its release during litter decomposition in the Chilean piedmont matorral

  • R. E. Cisternas
  • L. R. Yates


Parts of the nitrogen cycle involving two dominants (Lithraea caustica andQuillaja saponaria) in the Chilean piedmont matorral have been studied over a 15-month period. Analyses showed that 8.2 kg N ha−1 yr−1 entered the system in rainfall and dry deposition, though impaction of N-containing compounds on vegetation (not measured) may elevate this value.L. caustica, by virtue of its greater percent cover, contributed more leaf litter than didQ. saponaria to the system (1089,vs 737 kg dry matter ha−1 yr−1, respectively), although on an individual basisQ. saponaria produced more litter (640,vs 350 g dry leaf litter m−2 yr−1 rL. caustica). This plus the greater nitrogen release ofL. caustica leaf litter during decomposition (2.61,vs 0.60 g N kg dry litter−1 yr−1 forQ. saponaria) andQ. saponaria's higher N-content of dropped leaves (0.54,vs 0.37% N forL. caustica) may indicate a more external cycling of nitrogen inQ. saponaria relative to that inL. caustica. These two species may therefore represent two different strategies of individual nitrogen cycling, external and internal.

Key words

Chile Lithraea caustica Litterfall N-cycling Piedmont-matorral Quillaja saponaria 

El nitrógeno en la precipitación y la caida de hojarasca y su liberación durante la descomposición en el matorral premontano de chile


En el matorral premontano de Chile se estudiaron algunas partes del ciclo de nitrógeno de dos de sus dominantes (Lithraea caustica y Quillaria saponaria) durante 15 meses. Los análisis mostraron que los ingresos de nitrógeno por lluvia y deposición seca fueron de 8,5 kg N ha−1 año−1; este valor podría ser mayor si se considera el ingreso adicional por impactación de compuestos nitrogenados sobre la vegetación (no medido). Debido a su mayor cobertura porcentual,L. caustica contribuyó con mas hojarasca queQ. saponaria obteniendose valores de 1089 y 737 kg ha−1 materia seca año−1 respectivamente. Sin embargo, al considerar el area bajo los individuos,Q. saponaria produjo mas hojarasca queL. caustica (640vs 350 g materia seca m−2 año−1. Durante la descomposición de la hojarasca,L. caustica liberó 2,61 g N kg−1 hojarasca seca año mientras queQ. saponaria liberó 0,60 g N kg−1 hojarasca seca año−1.


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. E. Cisternas
    • 1
  • L. R. Yates
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciencias BiológicasPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile

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