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Litterfall and productivity in a tropical rain forest, Southern Baakundu Forest Reserve, Cameroon

  • Nicholas C. Songwe (a1), F. E. Fasehun (a1) and D. U. U. Okali (a1)

Litterfall was measured monthly in ten 1 m2 traps in each of two 0.25 ha plots in the rain forest of Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve, Cameroon for 18 months from 1 July 1982 to 31 December 1983. Particular emphasis was placed on measuring species contributions and in relating litterfall to climatic factors; the litterfall data were also used in estimating leaf production. Annual litterfall ranged between 12.9 and 14.1 t ha−1 and was partitioned to leaves (61–66%), branches (23–38%), fruits and flowers (8–12%) and ephiphytes (0.8%). Emergents and top canopy species like Desbordesia glaucescens (evergreen) and Ceiba pentandra (deciduous) contributed more litter than the numerically dominant lower storey species like Cola lepidota and Diospyros spp. Litter fell throughout the year but was greatest during the dry season (November to March); litterfall was thus strongly negatively correlated with environmental moisture variables and could be predicted from its linear regression on time of year, throughfall and relative humidity. By correcting the leaf fall data for leaf weight losses due to grazing and re-translocation, leaf production rates of 10.2 to 11.2 t ha−1 yr−1 were estimated for the forest.

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B. Hopkins 1966. Vegetation of Olokemeji Forest Reserve, Nigeria. IV. The litter and soil with special reference to the seasonal changes. Journal of Ecology 54:687703.

D. M. John 1973. Accumulation and decay of litter and net production of forest in tropical West Africa OIKOS 24:430435.

I. Kunkel-Westphal & P. Kunkel 1979. Litter in a Guatemalan primary forest, with details of leaf-shedding by some common tree species. Journal of Ecology 67:665686.

J. Proctor , J. M. Anderson , S. C. L. Fogden & H. W. Vallack 1983. Ecological studies in four contrasting lowland rain forests in Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak. II. Litterfall, litter standing crop and preliminary observations on herbivory. Journal of Ecology 71:261283.

P. W. Richards 1963. Ecological notes on West African vegetation II. Lowland forest of the Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve. Journal of Ecology 51(1):123149.

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Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
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