, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 441–451 | Cite as

Hedychium gardnerianum Invasion into Hawaiian Montane Rainforest: Interactions Among Litter Quality, Decomposition Rate, and Soil Nitrogen Availability

  • Jennifer L. Funk


Few studies have examined the invasion of understory species into closed-canopy forests and, despite inter-specific differences in litter quality and quantity between understory and dominant canopy trees, the influence of understory invasions on soil nitrogen (N) cycling remains unknown. This paper examines litter quality and decomposition of kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum), an invasive understory herb, to determine the influence of this species on N cycling in a Hawaiian montane rainforest. To examine the potential feedback between increased soil N availability and litter decomposition, litter from the invasive ginger, a native tree, and native tree fern was collected from unfertilized and fertilized plots and decomposed in a reciprocal transplant design. Hedychium litter decomposed faster than litter from the two native species. Across species, decomposition rates were negatively correlated with litter lignin content. Despite rapid decomposition rates of Hedychium litter, soil nitrogen availability and rates of net mineralization in the soil were similar in invaded and uninvaded plots. Nitrogen cycling at this site may be more strongly influenced by native species, which contribute the most to overall stand biomass. A negative effect of fertilization on the decomposition of Hedychium litter suggests that a negative feedback between litter quality and soil N availability may exist over longer timescales.


Invasive species Tropical ecology Plant soil interactions Hawaii Nitrogen cycling 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer L. Funk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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