Forest ecology and management vol:233 issue:1 pages:21-35
To determine annual litter production of regenerating forest areas in the Tigray highlands of northern Ethiopia monthly litter production was monitored over a two-year period in areas with varying degree of vegetation cover restoration. Total annual litter production varied from 30 to 425 g m(-2) and increased significantly where areas were closed for a longer time. Litter production was depending on vegetation cover through an exponential relation and was influenced also by soil fertility. Leaf litter typically constituted between 70 and 85% of total litter production, while contributions of woody and reproductive litter varied according to species composition. Strong seasonality in litterfall was explained by pronounced seasonal variation in rainfall. Standing crop of litter built up once an area was closed for grazing, increasing from around 20 g m(-2) in degraded grazing lands to nearly 600 g m(-2) in an old exclosure. Litter accumulation was mainly determined by litter input, but was also influenced by litter quality, species composition and microclimate development in the restoring forest areas. A detailed study of nine dominant shrub and tree species revealed three distinct litter production patterns, corresponding to drought-deciduous species, evergreen species and (semi-)evergreen Acacia species respectively. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.