Journal of Tropical Ecology

Research Article

Litterfall and productivity in a tropical rain forest, Southern Baakundu Forest Reserve, Cameroon

Nicholas C. Songwea1 p1, F. E. Fasehuna1 and D. U. U. Okalia1

a1 Department of Forest Resources Management, University of Ibadan, Nigeria


Litterfall was measured monthly in ten 1 m2 traps in each of two 0.25 ha plots in the rain forest of Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve, Cameroon for 18 months from 1 July 1982 to 31 December 1983. Particular emphasis was placed on measuring species contributions and in relating litterfall to climatic factors; the litterfall data were also used in estimating leaf production. Annual litterfall ranged between 12.9 and 14.1 t ha−1 and was partitioned to leaves (61–66%), branches (23–38%), fruits and flowers (8–12%) and ephiphytes (0.8%). Emergents and top canopy species like Desbordesia glaucescens (evergreen) and Ceiba pentandra (deciduous) contributed more litter than the numerically dominant lower storey species like Cola lepidota and Diospyros spp. Litter fell throughout the year but was greatest during the dry season (November to March); litterfall was thus strongly negatively correlated with environmental moisture variables and could be predicted from its linear regression on time of year, throughfall and relative humidity. By correcting the leaf fall data for leaf weight losses due to grazing and re-translocation, leaf production rates of 10.2 to 11.2 t ha−1 yr−1 were estimated for the forest.

(Accepted August 10 1987)


p1 Present address: Forest Research Station, PMB 29, Kumba, Cameroon.