Decomposition of leaf litter of some evergreen broadleaf trees in Korea
Decomposition of leaf litter of some evergreen broadleaf trees in Korea
Journal of Ecology and Environment. 2015. Nov, 38(4): 517-528
  • Published : November 28, 2015
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Lee, Kyung Eui
Cha, Sangsub
Lee, Sang Hoon
Shim, Jae Kuk

Litter decomposition is an important process in terrestrial ecosystem. However, studies on decomposition are rare, especially in evergreen broadleaf trees. We collected the leaf litter of five evergreen broadleaf trees (Daphniphyllum macropodum, Dendropanax morbifera, Castanopsis cuspidata var. thunbergii, Machilus thunbergii and Quercus acuta), and carried out a decomposition experiment using the litterbag method in Ju-do, Wando-gun, Korea for 731 days from December 25, 2011 to December 25, 2013. Among the five experimental tree species, C. cuspidata var. thunbergii distribution was limited in Jeju Island, and D. macropodum was distributed at the highest latitude at Mt. Baekyang (N 35��40��). About 2% of the initial litter mass of D. macropodum and D. morbifera remained, while 20.9% remained for C. cuspidata var. thunbergii, 30.4% for M. thunbergii, and 31.6% for Q. acuta. D. macropodum litter decayed four times faster (k = 2.02 yr<sup>-1</sup>) than the litter of Q. acuta (k = 0.58 yr<sup>-1</sup>). The decomposition of litter was positively influenced by thermal climate such as accumulated mean daily air temperature (year day index) and precipitation, as well as by physical characteristics such as thickness (R<sup>2</sup>=0.939, P = 0.007) and specific leaf area (SLA) (R<sup>2</sup> = 0.964, P = 0.003). The characteristics of chemical composition such as lignin (R<sup>2</sup> = 0.939, P = 0.007) and water-soluble materials (R<sup>2</sup> = 0.898, P = 0.014) showed significant correlations with litter decomposition. However, the nutrients in litter showed complicated species-specific trends. The litter of D. macropodum and D. morbifera had fast decomposition despite their low nitrogen concentration and high C/N ratio. This means that the litter decomposition was more strongly affected by physical characteristics than chemical composition and nutrient content. On the other hand, the litter of Q. acuta which had the slowest decay rate had a high amount of N and low C/N ratio. Thus, the decomposition of Q. acuta litter was more affected by the P content of the litter than the N content, although all litter had similar physical characteristics.
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