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Abstract

In a sclerophyll open forest (Eucalyptus obliqua L'Herit-E. baxteri Benth. association) near Adelaide total mean annual litter fall over a 5-year period was 233 g/m2 dry weight, comprising 190 g/m2 of leaves, small twigs, fruits and other small plant parts and 43 g/m2 of sticks and logs. Samples of sticks and logs were taken at approximately 12-weekly intervals and of other litter at approximately 6-weekly intervals. Maximum rates of leaf fall were in late summer and minimum rates in winter, and a simple harmonic model representing seasonal fluctuations accounted for 61.8% of the variation. The standing crop of litter was 980 g/m2, representing 4.2 years’ mean litter fall.

Samples of sticks and logs and of other litter from each sampling occasion were bulked and their content of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, Mn, Fe and Cu determined. Seasonal variations were not found in nutrient content of sticks and logs, but for other litter there was a clear harmonic seasonal variation, with rate of litter fall negatively correlated with concentrations of N, P, Zn, Fe and Cu and positively correlated with Ca, Mg and Mn concentrations. Concentrations of K did not correlate with those of other elements. Total annual inputs of nutrients were calculated.

Calorific values of the litter showed a mean annual input of approximately 4900 kJ/m2/year.

Comparisons were made between litter fall rates and nutrient inputs from litter at the experimental site and previous records from other eucalypt forests.