TOC, TON, TOS and TOP in Rainfall, Throughfall, Litter Percolate and Soil Solution of a Montane Rainforest Succession at Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Organic nutrients have proven to contribute significantly to nutrient cycling in temperate forest ecosystems. Still, little is known about their relevance in the tropics. In the present study, organic C, N, S and P were analysed in rainfall, throughfall, litter percolate and soil solution of a montane rainforest at Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The aim was to determine the amounts of organic nutrients in different water pathways and to assess the influence of forest disturbance on organic nutrients by comparing mature forests, secondary forests and shrub vegetation in clearings. Concentrations of all studied elements increased from rainfall to throughfall and litter percolate and then exhibited a rapid decrease in the mineral soil. Concentrations of organic P were above the detection limit only in the litter percolate. Organic N (ON) as a fraction of total N increased from 50% in rainfall (0.19 mg l−1) to 66% (0.45 mg l−1) in throughfall followed by a decline to 39% in the litter percolate (0.77 mg l−1) of the mature forest. Similarly, proportions of organic S and P amounted to 43 and 34%, respectively, in the litter percolate in mature forest. For ON, this proportion further decreased to less than 10% in the soil solution. The latter was probably attributable to a high sorption capacity of the studied Andisols, which led to overall low organic element concentrations in the soil solution (OC: 1.2 mg l−1, ON: 0.05 mg l−1 at 1 m soil depth) as compared to other temperate and tropical forest ecosystems. Organic element concentrations were higher in litter percolate and soil solution under the clearings, but there were no differences in the relative contribution of these elements. Organic nutrient forms at Mt. Kilimanjaro appeared to be much less susceptible to leaching than their inorganic forms.
KeywordsAndisols Dissolved organic carbon Dissolved organic nitrogen Dissolved organic phosphorous Dissolved organic sulphur Montane rainforest
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