, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 217–229 | Cite as

Effects of residue quality and climate on plant residue decomposition and nutrient release along the transect from humid forest to Sahel of West Africa

  • G. TianEmail author
  • M. A. Badejo
  • A. I. Okoh
  • F. Ishida
  • G. O. Kolawole
  • Y. Hayashi
  • F. K. Salako


Field litterbag studies were conducted in the 2000 rainy season and the 2000/2001 dry season along the transect of West African major agroecological zones (agroeco-zones) to measure the decomposition of, and N and P release from 5 plant residues (leaves of woody species) with increasing quality: Dactyladenia barteriPterocarpus santalinoides, Alchornea cordifolia, Senna siamea and Gliricidia sepium. The decomposition rate constant (wk−1) ranged from 0.034 (Dactyladenia, subhumid zone) to 0.49 (Gliricidia, humid zone) in the rainy season, and from 0.01 (Dactyladenia, subhumid zone) to 0.235 (Pterocarpus, arid zone) in the dry season. The direct correlation between the decomposition rate of plant residues and their quality was only valid in agroeco-zones where there is not moisture stress. Similarly, the direct correlation between the decomposition rate of plant residues and moisture availability was only valid for plant residues with high quality. The decomposition rate of the low quality plant residue could increase from humid to arid zone in West Africa. In the arid zone, the low quality plant residue could also decompose faster than high quality plant residue. The climate-residue quality interactive effects on plant residue decomposition in West Africa were attributed to the feedback of low quality plant residue’s mulching effect, soil fauna and appreciable photodegradation in dry regions. A decomposition equation that could be used to predict the decomposition rate of plant residues with various qualities across agroeco-zones in West Africa was obtained from this study. The equation was expressed as follow: k = 0.122 − 0.000747*PRQI2− 0.0233*PRQI*CI + 0.00337*CI* PRQI2, in which k is the decomposition rate constant (wk−1), PRQI the plant residue quality index, and CI the climate index (ratio of rainfall to sunshine hours cumulative during the entire decomposition). The response of N and P release from plant residues to residue quality and climate was similar to that of residue decomposition. At the late stage of the dry season decomposition, the high C/N and C/P ratio plant residue (Dactyladenia leaves) that immobilized N and P in wet zones showed a release of N and P in the dry zone.


Decomposition rate constant N and P release Mulching effect Soil fauna Photodegradation Nigeria Niger 



The authors wish to thank William Odianarewo, S. Mohammed, Chidi Agbara, Samson Enodumwenben and Olaide Lamidi for field work and sample processing; Philip Igboba, Joe Uponi and Oladele Oguntade for laboratory analyses; and Adekunle Ibiyemi, Emannuel Makeri, Hakeem Ajeigbe and A.O. Osunde for supplying site information. The authors acknowledge the contribution of B.T. Kang for stimulating this work, Dyno Keatinge for supporting the project, and Zainul Abedin for providing statistical advice. We also appreciate the comments of associate editor, Dale Johnson, and two anonymous reviewers that have greatly improved the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Tian
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. A. Badejo
    • 2
  • A. I. Okoh
    • 3
  • F. Ishida
    • 4
  • G. O. Kolawole
    • 5
  • Y. Hayashi
    • 6
  • F. K. Salako
    • 7
  1. 1.Environmental Monitoring and Research Division, Research and Development DepartmentMetropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD-Chicago)CiceroUSA
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyObafemi Awolowo UniversityIle-IfeNigeria
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry and MicrobiologyUniversity of Fort HareAliceSouth Africa
  4. 4.International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)IbadanNigeria
  5. 5.Department of AgronomyLadoke Akintola University of TechnologyOgbomosoNigeria
  6. 6.College of Bioresource SciencesNihon UniversityFujisawa-shiJapan
  7. 7.Department of Soil Science and Land Management, College of Plant Science and Crop ProductionUniversity of AgricultureAbeokutaNigeria

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