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Biogeochemistry of an afrotropical montane rain forest on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania


Schrumpf,  M.
Soil and Ecosystem Processes, Dr. M. Schrumpf, Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Schrumpf, M., Zech, W., Axmacher, J. C., & Lyaruu, H. V. M. (2006). Biogeochemistry of an afrotropical montane rain forest on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 22(Part 1), 77-89.

In contrast to their well-studied counterparts in the Neotropics and in Asia, East African montane rain forests are surrounded by semi-arid savanna plains. These plains have a high erosion potential for salt crusts accumulated at the soil surface. Hence it may be hypothesized that East African montane forest ecosystems experience strongly enhanced nutrient inputs via dry deposition, which alters their overall biogeochemistry. The aim of our study was to test this hypothesis by investigating K, Mg, Ca, Na and N-forms in rainfall, throughfall, fine litter, litter percolate and soil solution of a montane rain forest at Mt. Kilimanjaro. Four forest plots situated at elevations between 2250 and 23 50 in asl on the south-western slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro were studied for 2 y. In contradiction to our hypothesis, inputs of K, Mg, Ca and Na via rainfall (7.5, 0.9, 2.3 and 6.2 kg ha(-1) y(-1)) and throughfall (3 5, 2.0, 3.5 and 11 kg ha(-1) y(-1)) were low on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Fluxes of NH4-N and NO3-N were within the range observed at other montane rain forests. with NO3-N being the only nutrient partly absorbed in the forest canopies (2.9 kg ha(-1) y(-1) in rainfall, 0.9 kg ha(-1) y(-1) in throughfall). The highest overall nutrient concentrations in water samples occurred in litter percolate (1.4 mg l(-1) K, 0.3 mg l(-1) Mg, 0.8 mg l(-1) Ca, 0.3 mg l(-J) NH4-N, 0.9 mg l(-1) NO3-N), with values still being low compared to other sites. Nutrient concentrations in seepage water strongly declined with increasing soil depth. Thus, both inputs and losses of base cations from the forest by water pathways are assumed to be low. N or P limitation of growth is not expected since high fluxes of N and P in fine litter (119 and 5.9 kg ha(-1) y(-1) for N and P respectively) indicate low within-stand efficiency. [References: 49]