The Environmentalist

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 279–288 | Cite as

Litter decomposition rate and nutrient release from different litter forms in a Himalayan alpine ecosystem

  • Neelam RawatEmail author
  • B. P. Nautiyal
  • M. C. Nautiyal


Observations on above ground litter decomposition and nutrient release in alpine ecosystem of the Himalaya were carried out. Monthly variation was observed for above ground litter crop and it was higher in the protected sites (PR) when compared with unprotected sites (UNPR). Turnover rate (TR) and time (TT) was also higher in PR sites and it corresponded to maximum net accumulation of standing dead and litter biomass. This resulted into low litter disappearance and therefore, low nutrient fluxes as well. Comparatively, potassium content was a maximum followed by N and OC in above ground crop of litter with significant variation among the sites (P < 0.001 and 0.005, respectively). It was observed that only 9–12% litter of various categories was decomposed annually at the rate of 0.1–0.13%. Overall, decomposition process was a maximum during active growth season and only 13.2–16.2% of total litter was decomposed during the winter months (December–March). Release of OC and NPK to soil organic matter through the decomposition of various litter types was also observed and the pattern of release was similar to that of disappearance channel. All these parameters are reported and possible reasons are described in the present paper.


Alpine Decomposition Litter forms Soil organic matter pool Nutrient status 



Authors are grateful to Director, HAPPRC for providing necessary facilities. One of the Author (BPN) gratefully acknowledges Prof. C. Körner, Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Schoenbeinstr, Basel for reviewing the MS and for his constructive criticisms and suggestions. Thanks are also due to Mr. S. S. Rawat and Mr. Karan Singh Rauthan for their wordless assistance and support. This work was partially supported through financial assistance by MOEF, GOI, New Delhi, India.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neelam Rawat
    • 1
    Email author
  • B. P. Nautiyal
    • 2
  • M. C. Nautiyal
    • 1
  1. 1.High Altitude Plant Physiology Research Centre (HAPPRC), Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University SrinagarSrinagar (Garhwal)India
  2. 2.Department of Horticulture, Aromatic and Medicinal Plants (HAMP), School of Earth Sciences (ES) and Natural Resources Management (NRM)Mizoram UniversityAizawlIndia

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