Leaf-litter decomposition of 15 tree species in a lowland tropical rain forest in Sarawak: Dynamics of carbon, nutrients, and organic constituents

Muneto Hirobe, John Sabang, Balram K. Bhatta, Hiroshi Takeda

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The effects of tree species on the dynamics of nutrient transformations during leaf-litter decomposition are not well understood in tropical rain forests. To examine differences in the dynamics of C, nutrients, and organic constituents during decomposition among tree species, the leaf-litter decomposition of 15 trees was assessed using a litter-bag method in a lowland tropical rain forest in Sarawak. The dynamics of C was parallel to that of weight loss. The dynamics of nutrients were grouped into three patterns. The dynamics of K was characterized by a high leaching loss in the initial stages, and that of Ca and Mg generally showed a gradual decrease over the course of decomposition. The dynamics of N and P showed highly different patterns with the weight loss, and was characterized by relatively higher remaining mass at the end of the experiment. The variations or exceptions of nutrient dynamics among tree species were considered to be related to the initial concentration of each nutrient. For the dynamics of organic constituents, water-soluble carbohydrates disappeared quickly at the initial stages, and acid-soluble carbohydrates were the second fastest decomposing fraction; the decomposition of acid-insoluble residue (AIS) was the slowest. The release of limiting nutrients (N and P) generally followed the disappearance of AIS, but was independent of the disappearance of AIS when the initial concentrations of these nutrients were very low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-354
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forest Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes



  • Litter decomposition
  • Nutrient release
  • Organic constituents
  • Tropical rain forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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