Temporal changes in litterfall, litter decomposition and their chemical composition in Sasa dwarf bamboo in a natural forest ecosystem of northern Japan

Abstract

We investigated the dynamics of litterfall and litter decomposition of Sasa dwarf bamboo (Sasa senanensis) and trees to clarify the characteristics of organic matter and nitrogen cycling between plant and soil in a natural cool-temperate mixed forest ecosystem dominated by an understory vegetation of Sasa. Mean annual Sasa litterfall over the 3-year study period was 164 g m−2 year−1, which accounted for approximately 29% of total litterfall. Litter decomposition of Sasa leaf and Sasa culm was significantly slower than that of tree leaf during first and second years. The slow decomposition rates of both Sasa litter types were caused by a significantly higher silicate than in tree leaf. Nitrogen concentration in litter increased as decomposition progressed, especially in Sasa leaf and tree leaf. As a result of the slow decomposition of both Sasa litter types, 111 and 73% of nitrogen to the initial amounts were retained in Sasa leaf and Sasa culm after 3 years, respectively. The amounts of retained nitrogen in Sasa leaf, Sasa culm, and tree leaf after 3 years were 1.29, 0.47, and 3.92 g N m−2, respectively, indicating that the differences of litter decomposition rates among the litter types influence on the nitrogen cycling in forest ecosystem through the differences of the nitrogen release from litter.

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Acknowledgments

This study was conducted in the Nakagawa Experimental Forest of Hokkaido University, one of the core sites of JaLTER (Japan Long Term Ecological Research Network). We are grateful to all faculty and technical staff members of Nakagawa Experimental Forest of Hokkaido University for their helpful support in the field study. We also thank Drs. Shigeru Uemura, Toshiya Yoshida, Joo Young Cha, Yasunori Nakagawa as well as the graduate students of Northern Forestry Research and Development Office, Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere, Hokkaido University, for their helpful comments, discussion, and cooperation with the field work and data analysis.

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Correspondence to Tsunehiro Watanabe.

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Watanabe, T., Fukuzawa, K. & Shibata, H. Temporal changes in litterfall, litter decomposition and their chemical composition in Sasa dwarf bamboo in a natural forest ecosystem of northern Japan. J For Res 18, 129–138 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10310-011-0330-1

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Keywords

  • Immobilization
  • Litter-bag method
  • Nitrogen cycling
  • Silicate
  • Understory vegetation