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Brazilian Journal of Botany

versão impressa ISSN 0100-8404


SCHEER, Maurício Bergamini et al. Patterns of litter production in a secondary alluvial Atlantic Rain Forest in southern Brazil. Rev. bras. Bot. [online]. 2009, vol.32, n.4, pp.805-817. ISSN 0100-8404.

Above-ground litter production is one of the most accessible ways to estimate ecosystem productivity, nutrient fluxes and carbon transfers. Phenological patterns and climatic conditions are still not fully explained well for tropical and subtropical forests under less pronounced dry season and non-seasonal climates, as well as the interaction of these patterns with successional dynamics. Monthly litterfall was estimated for two years in a 9 to 10 year old secondary alluvial Atlantic Rain forest. Total litterfall was higher in the site with more developed vegetation (6.4 ± 1.2 ton ha-1 year-1; 95% confidence interval) as compared to the site with less developed vegetation (3.0 ± 1.0 ton ha-1 year-1). The monthly production of 11 litter fractions (eight fractions comprising the leaf litter of the seven main species of the community and other species; reproductive parts, twigs £ 2 cm diameter, and miscellaneous material) were correlated with meteorological variables making possible to identify three patterns of deposition. The main pattern, dominated by leaf-exchanging species, consisted of a cycle with the highest litterfall at the beginning of the rainy season, preceding by basically three months the peaks of the annual cycles of rainfall and temperatures. Other two patterns, dominated by brevi-deciduous species, peaked at the end of the rainy season and at the end of the non-rainy season. Tropical and subtropical dry forests that present the highest leaf fall gradually earlier than rain forests (as the studied sites) are possibly related to the start of senescence process. It seems that such process is triggered earlier by a more severe hydric stress, besides other factors linked to a minor physiological activity of plants that result in abscission.

Palavras-chave : litterfall; meteorological variables; phenology; primary productivity; sucession.

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