Journal of Tropical Ecology

Short Communication

The effects of forest fragmentation and increased edge exposure on leaf litter accumulation

Kenneth J. Feeley a1
a1 Department of Biology, Duke University, Box 90338, Durham NC, 27708 USA. Email:

Article author query
feeley kj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

In forested ecosystems leaf litter is generally the primary pathway through which nutrients are cycled from the canopy to the forest floor (other pathways include throughfall, stemflow and animal faeces; Jordan 1985). Consequently, any disturbance that alters the quantity or quality of litter can have dramatic impacts on nutrient cycling and the availability of essential nutrients to plants (Vitousek 1984). Fragmentation of tropical forests has been demonstrated to cause several changes in both the biotic (Cosson et al. 1999, Laurance et al. 1998, Saunders et al. 1991) and abiotic environments (Camargo & Kapos 1995, Debinski & Holt 2000, Laurance 2002, Laurance et al. 2002) and thus may influence litter accumulation in the remnant patches (Carvalho & Vasconcelos 1999, Didham 1998, Laurance et al. 2002).

(Accepted January 12 2004)

Key Words: edge exposure; forest fragmentation; leaf litter.