Evaluation of litterfall production is important for understanding nutrient cycling, forest growth, successional pathways, and interactions with environmental variables in forest ecosystems. Litterfall was intensively studied during the period of 1982-2001 in two subtropical monsoon vegetation gradients in the Dinghushan Biosphere Reserve, Guangdong Province, China. The two gradients include: (1) a successional gradient composed of pine forest (PF), mixed pine and broadleaved forest (MF) and monsoon evergreen broadleaved forest (BF), and (2) an altitudinal gradient composed of Baiyunci ravine rain forest (BRF), Qingyunci ravine rain forest (QRF), BF and mountainous evergreen broadleaved forest (MMF). Mean annual litterfall production was 356, 861 and 849 g m-2 for PF, MF and BF of the successional gradient, and 1016, 1061, 849 and 489 g m-2 for BRF, QRF, BF and MMF of the altitudinal gradient, respectively. As expected, mean annual litterfall of the pioneer forest PF was the lowest, but rapidly increased over the observation period while those in other forests were relatively stable, confirming that forest litterfall production is closely related to successional stages and growth patterns. Leaf proportions of total litterfall in PF, MF, BF, BRF, QRF and MMF were 76.4%, 68.4%, 56.8%, 55.7%, 57.6% and 69.2%, respectively, which were consistent with the results from studies in other evergreen broadleaved forests. Our analysis on litterfall monthly distributions indicated that litterfall production was much higher during the period of April to September compared to other months for all studied forest types. Although there were significant impacts of some climate variables (maximum and effective temperatures) on litterfall production in some of the studied forests, the mechanisms of how climate factors (temperature and rainfall) interactively affect litterfall await further study. ?? 2006 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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Litterfall production along successional and altitudinal gradients of subtropical monsoon evergreen broadleaved forests in Guangdong, China