Accumulated litter, nutrient stock and decomposition in an Atlantic Forest fragment
Litter dynamics is one of the fundamental processes for the growth and maintenance of native forest fragments, being considered the main pathway for nutrient cycling in forests. Therefore, studies on accumulated litter and nutrient content provide information for a better understanding of nutrient dynamics. The aim of the study was to evaluate leaf litter and nutrient stock in different seasons and the instantaneous rate of decomposition in an Atlantic Forest Fragment over two years. Litter sampling was carried out in 12 permanent plots with dimensions of 20 m x 50 m. Litter dry mass and nutrient concentration were determined. The average annual accumulation of litter was 5269 kg ha-1. There was no statistically significant difference in the amount of litter between seasons. There was a statistically significant difference in the contents of N, P, K Ca and Mg between the different seasons. Nutrient stocks were 123.3, 92.8, 13.2, 11.8, 9.6, 3.0 kg ha-1 year-1 for Ca, N, Mg, S, K and P respectively. The total of nutrients in the accumulated litter was 253.7 kg ha-1 year-1. The litter renewal time was 281 days. The times required for 50% and 95% litter decomposition were 196 and 850 days. The average litter stocks, nutrients and decomposition are in line with other studies, indicating that the Atlantic Forest fragment seasonal semi-deciduous presents indicators of nutrient cycling. These results show that the ecosystem is sustainable from the point of view of cycling and nutrient release.
Keywords: ecosystem functions, nutrient cycling, secondary succession.
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