Spatial variation of soil physico-chemical properties influenced by spatial and temporal variation of litter in a dry tropical forest floor
Natural litter trapping and in situ decomposition in depressions and rocky obstructions of Vindhyan hill tract result in mosaics of patchy microsites, different in appearance from the adjoining non-patchy milieu, in the dry tropical forest floor. Physico-chemical analysis of soil revealed that on both the hill top (ridge) and hill slope, patchy microsites were significantly higher in total organic C, total N and P and fine particle (Silt + clay) proportion than corresponding non-patchy microsites. Monthly maximum litter accumulation is 1.515 g m-2 litter in April for the patchy microsite compared to a maximum of 927 g m-2 litter during February in the non-patchy microsites, maximum litter accumulation in hill top site was 888 g m-2 in February in patchy microsites and 289 g m-2 in non-patchy microsites during March. Decomposition of leaf litter was studied in nylon net bag for 480 days. The time required lor 95% weight loss varied from 441 days for the slope patchy microsites to 651 days for the ridge top or hill top non-patchy microsites. The mean relative decomposition rate varied between 9.12 mg g-1 d-1 in non-patchy microsites of hill top to 9.83 mg g-1 d-1 in patchy microsites of hill slope. Patchy microsites are areas of high litter accumulation + decomposition, within a matrix with comparatively inactive litter processes.
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