Nitrogen and Phosphorus Concentration in Leaf Litter and Soil in Xishuangbanna Tropical Forests: Does Precipitation Limitation Matter?
Tropical forests are generally expected to be limited by the availability of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and these nutrient limitations could be increased by changes in forest biogeochemistry due to limited precipitation. This effect is presumed to be enhanced in the forests predominated by monsoon climate. The present study examined the impacts of monthly precipitation on total N and P in leaf litter and soil of Xishuangbanna tropical forests. Litterfall and top soil were sampled from each of the five 20 × 20 m plots established in the primary (PTF) and secondary tropical forests (STF), at monthly interval for one year. Soils were strongly acidic and showed significant differences between the sites. The monthly amounts of soil and leaf litter nutrients showed great variations between the PTF and STF. Leaf litter N and P were associated with precipitation in both dry and rainy seasons. Soil N and P were not significantly related to precipitation, indicating that changes in vegetation composition and litterfall production together accounted for variation in soil N and P. Our results suggest that the precipitation limitation may affect the leaf litter N and P changes, but did not support the prediction that precipitation limitation can immediately lead to effects on soil N and P in the Xishuangbanna tropical forests.