Litter decomposition and nutrient dynamics of ten selected tree species in tropical rainforest of Ebom, southwest Cameroon

  • A Ibrahima
  • AD Mvondo Ze
  • JC Ntonga

Abstract

Litter decomposition processes in tropical rainforests are still poorly understood. Leaf litter decomposition and nutrient dynamics of ten contrasting tree species, Entandraphragma utile, Guibourtia tessmannii, Klainedoxa gabonensis, Musanga cecropioides, Panda oleosa, Plagiostyles africana, Pterocarpus soyauxii, Strombosia scheffleri, Vitex grandifolia and Xylopia aethiopica were studied in the tropical rainforest of Ebom, Southwest Cameroon. After 23 weeks of field incubation in litterbags, mass loss of litter samples varied from 24.08% in E. utile to 92.35% in V. grandifolia. Decomposition rate constants (k) ranged from 0.014 in M. cecropioides to 0.165 week-1 in V. grandifolia. The nutrient content in original litter samples also varied widely among species and showed low levels of Na, P and Mg, and high levels of N, Ca and K. Average
nutrient releases was 89.04%, 60.80%, 46.19%, 40.99% and 24.17% of mean initial content for K, Ca, Mg, N and P, respectively. For nutrient-related litter chemistry, correlations with the mass losses at the end of litter incubation were significant (P<0.05) only for C:N ratio, Mg and K content, whereas decomposition rate constants were significant only for K (P<0.01) and P(P<0.05). It can be concluded that litter decomposition is
affected by litter chemistry and specific nutrient composition in Ebom tropical rainforest of Cameroon.
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eISSN: 1997-342X
print ISSN: 1991-8631