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Leaf litter decomposition and nutrient release in reed bamboo (Ochlandra travancorica)

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Recently, considerable attention has been paid to the establishment of large scale plantations of reed bamboo (Ochlandra travancorica Benth) and its introduction in the home gardens of Kerala, India. As in forest ecosystems, the decomposition and nutrient release of leaf litter are supposed to play an important role in the nutrition of bamboo stands. The mass loss of reed bamboo was studied using a litter bag in a predominantly reed growing area at Vazhachal situated in the southern Western Ghats of India. Two sites, one in a pure reed patch and the other in a teak plantation with reed under growth, were selected. Results of the study indicated that the exponential model proposed by Olson [1] was the best fitting model to work out the annual decomposition rate constant of reed leaf litter. These rate constants varied from 0.234 at Site 1 to 0.229 at Site II and were not different between the two sites. The time for 50% decomposition was three months and that of 95% was 13 months. The decomposition rate was highest in July and it was strongly and positively correlated with rainfall and soil moisture. Release of nutrients from the leaf litter varied with the type of element, and the nutrient mobility from decomposing reed leaf litter was in the order K > N > Mg > Ca > P.


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