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Forests 2017, 8(9), 314; doi:10.3390/f8090314

Seasonal Dynamics of Litterfall in a Sub-Alpine Spruce-Fir Forest on the Eastern Tibetan Plateau: Allometric Scaling Relationships Based on One Year of Observations

1
Long-Term Research Station of Alpine Forest Ecosystem, Key Laboratory of Ecological Forestry Engineering, Institute of Ecology and Forestry, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China
2
Collaborative Innovation Center of Ecological Security in the Upper Reaches of Yangtze River in Sichuan Province, Chengdu 611130, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 July 2017 / Revised: 17 August 2017 / Accepted: 25 August 2017 / Published: 26 August 2017
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Abstract

Litterfall is the primary source of carbon and nutrients that determine soil fertility in forest ecosystems. Most current studies have focused on foliar litter, but the seasonal dynamics and allometric scaling relationships among different litter components (e.g., foliar litter, woody litter, reproductive litter, and epiphytic litter) are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the litter production of various litter components in a sub-alpine spruce-fir forest on the eastern Tibetan Plateau based on one year of observations (from August 2015 to July 2016). Our results showed that total litter production (LT) was 2380 kg·ha−1·year−1 (3% of the aboveground forest biomass), of which 73.6% was foliar litter (LF), 15.6% was woody litter (LW), 3.0% was reproductive litter (LR), 1.3% was epiphytic litter (LE), and 6.5% was miscellaneous material (LM). The total litterfall was bimodal (with peaks occurring in April and October) and was dominated by tree species (85.4% of LT, whereas shrubs accounted for 6.8% of LT). The litter production of evergreen species (68.4% of LT) was higher than that of deciduous species (23.8% of LT). Isometric relationships were observed between litter components and the total litter (i.e., LF∝LT0.99≈1 and LR∝LT0.98≈1), and allometric relationships were also found (i.e., LW∝LT1.40>1 and LM∝LT0.82<1). However, because some components did not exhibit obvious seasonal dynamics (i.e., LE), some relationships could not be expressed using allometric equations (i.e., LE versus LT, LF versus LE, LW versus LE, and LE versus LM). Thus, the different litter components showed different seasonal dynamics, and the total litter dynamics were primarily determined by the variation in foliar litter. In addition, the allometric relationships of the forest litterfall varied with the litter components, functional types (evergreen versus deciduous) and vertical structures (tree versus shrub). This study provides basic data and a new insight for future plant litter studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: litter production; dynamics; high-altitude frigid region; spruce-fir forest; allometric equation litter production; dynamics; high-altitude frigid region; spruce-fir forest; allometric equation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Fu, C.; Yang, W.; Tan, B.; Xu, Z.; Zhang, Y.; Yang, J.; Ni, X.; Wu, F. Seasonal Dynamics of Litterfall in a Sub-Alpine Spruce-Fir Forest on the Eastern Tibetan Plateau: Allometric Scaling Relationships Based on One Year of Observations. Forests 2017, 8, 314.

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