Soil macrofauna and litter nutrients in three tropical tree plantations on a disturbed site in Puerto Rico
Tree plantations are increasingly common in tropical landscapes due to their multiple uses. Plantations vary in structure and composition, and these variations may alter soil fauna communities. Recent studies have demonstrated the important role of soil fauna in the regulation of plant litter decomposition in the tropics. However, little is known about how plantation species affect soil fauna populations, which may in turn affect the biogeochemistry of the plantation system.
Research goals & methods
This study reports on soil macrofauna and litter nutrients in tropical tree plantations on disturbed sites in Puerto Rico. Soil macroinvertebrate abundance and biomass were measured in 9-year-old N2-fixing Leucaena leucocephala, Casuarina equisetifolia, and non-N2-fixing Eucalyptus robusta plantations on a degraded site in Puerto Rico. Nutrient concentrations and standing stocks of forest floor litter were also determined to examine the relationship between litter chemistry and soil macroinvertebrates.
Conclusions & takeaways
Leucaena plantations had significantly higher abundances and biomass of millipede species than Casuarina and Eucalyptus. Nitrogen, P, and K concentrations were generally higher in Leucaena litter. Millipede biomass was highly correlated to N concentration and C/N ratio in the Oi litter horizon. Earthworm biomass did not differ among plantation treatments. These results suggest that plantation species differ in their influence on soil fauna, and the biomass and abundance of soil fauna can be regulated through careful selection of plantation species in degraded tropical lands.
Soil macrofauna and litter nutrients in three tropical tree plantations on a disturbed site in Puerto Rico. Forest Ecology and Management. 2002;170:161–171. doi:10.1016/s0378-1127(01)00770-8..
- Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA