Assoc. Prof. Tang Jianwei and Prof. Cao Min of XTBG conducted a 10-year study on litterfall production, decomposition and nutrient use efficiency in three different tropical forest ecosystems in Xishuangbanna, SW China. The aim of the study was to understand the structure, functioning, and ecological processed of tropical forest ecosystems.
Fine litterfall, decomposition rate, mineral-element return, and nutrient use efficiency (NUE) were studied in a tropical seasonal rainforest (TSF), a secondary tropical forest (STF), and a man-made tropical forest (MTF)—the three dominant forest ecosystems in the region—from 1996 to 2005 (10 years).
As the conversion of tropical seasonal rain forest to secondary tropical forest and man-made tropical forest changes tree species composition and characteristics of litterfall, decomposition and nutrient use efficiency, the study aimed to test the hypotheses that: (1) species-rich stands will produce more litter with less annual variation than species-poor stands; (2) litterfall decomposition rate is more rapid in species-rich than in species-poor communities; (3) nutrient use efficiency is higher in species-rich than in species-poor communities.
The study suggests that litterfall production and decomposition process are influenced strongly by the specific assemblage of coexisting species and their life stage (age) but less affected by species richness.
Their findings indicate that establishing multi-species and multistory man-made tropical forest can be an effective way to enhance biological productivity and maintain soil nutrients on degraded tropical land.
The study entitled “Litterfall production, decomposition and nutrient use efficiency varies with tropical forest types in Xishuangbanna, SW China: a 10-year study” has been published in Plant and Soil, 335 (1-2): 271-288, DOI:10.1007/s11104-010-0414-2.