iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Contribution of legume and non-legume trees to litter dynamics and C-N-P inputs in a secondary seasonally dry tropical forest

Naiara Machado Neves (1), Ranieri Ribeiro Paula (1-2-3)   , Eduardo Alves Araujo (1), Gomes Gorsani Rodrigo (1-4), Karla Maria Pedra de Abreu (5), Sustanis Horn Kunz (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pages 8-15 (2022)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3442-014
Published: Jan 13, 2022 - Copyright © 2022 SISEF

Research Articles

Many studies have investigated nutrient cycling in seasonally dry tropical forests, but few have assessed the contribution of different functional groups to these processes. Here, we investigated general litter dynamics patterns and the contribution of legume and non-legume trees to litter dynamics and carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) inputs in a fragment of secondary seasonally dry tropical forest after half a century of forest succession in the Atlantic Forest biome in Brazil. Between 2016 and 2017, we quantified litterfall production, canopy cover, forest floor, and soil C and N storage in 11 permanent plots distributed in the fragment. Vegetation identity and structure had been previously assessed. We quantified the seasonal inputs of leaf litter and C, N, and P separately for each functional group (legume and non-legume tree species). We also analyzed the correlations between the variables measured for each functional group with the variables measured at the plot level. Litter dynamics and nutrient input were affected by climate and functional group. Litterfall production during the two driest months was three times higher than during the other periods of the year, suggesting that species synchronicity is likely to minimize drought-related damage on trees. Legume trees had twice the basal area attained by non-legume trees, but while legumes were larger, non-legumes were more abundant and dominant in the smaller diameter class. Legumes deposited twice as much N during the driest period of the year as non-legumes. Although leaf litter, C, and P inputs by legumes were generally higher than those of non-legumes, these differences during the dry season were not statistically significant. We also found that the legume variables correlated better with the plot-level variables, compared to the non-legume functional group. Our results also indicated potential effects of the leaf litter and nutrient inputs by the legume functional group on the decomposition constant and, consequently, on the time of forest floor decomposition. Further studies should assess the role of different functional groups in litter dynamics and nutrient inputs in seasonally dry tropical forests.


Nutrient Cycling, Litterfall, Nutrient Input, Canopy Cover, Decomposition Rate, Fabaceae, Atlantic Forest

Authors’ address

Naiara Machado Neves 0000-0002-7280-9621
Ranieri Ribeiro Paula 0000-0002-2520-1779
Eduardo Alves Araujo 0000-0003-2300-1332
Gomes Gorsani Rodrigo
Sustanis Horn Kunz 0000-0001-6937-7787
UFES, Departamento de Ciências Florestais e da Madeira, Av. Governador Carlos Lindemberg, 316, Jerônimo Monteiro-ES, CEP 29.550-000 (Brazil)
Ranieri Ribeiro Paula 0000-0002-2520-1779
UFES, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Produção Vegetal, Alto Universitário, s/n, Alegre-ES, CEP 29.500-000 (Brazil)
Ranieri Ribeiro Paula 0000-0002-2520-1779
Instituto Nacional da Mata Atlntica - INMA-MCTI, Avenida José Ruschi, km 136, Santa Teresa, Espírito Santo, CEP 29650-000 (Brazil)
Gomes Gorsani Rodrigo
Laboratório de Ecologia e Evolução de Plantas - Programa de pós-graduação em Botnica, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, CEP 36570-900, Viçosa, Minas Gerais (Brazil)
Karla Maria Pedra de Abreu
Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Espírito Santo - Ifes, Campus de Alegre, Rod. 482, km 47, 29520-000, Alegre, ES (Brazil)

Corresponding author

Ranieri Ribeiro Paula


Neves NM, Paula RR, Araujo EA, Gorsani Rodrigo G, Abreu KMP, Kunz SH (2022). Contribution of legume and non-legume trees to litter dynamics and C-N-P inputs in a secondary seasonally dry tropical forest. iForest 15: 8-15. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3442-014

Academic Editor

Maurizio Ventura

Paper history

Received: Apr 08, 2020
Accepted: Oct 31, 2021

First online: Jan 13, 2022
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2022
Publication Time: 2.47 months

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