Tropical Grasslands (1992) Volume 26, 235–242

Rate of litter decomposition in a tropical grassland dominated by Cymbopogon caesius in southern India

K. SENTHILKUMAR, K. UDAIYAN and S. MANIAN

Department of Botany, Bharathiar University, Tamil Nadu, India

Abstract

Experiments were conducted to measure the rate of Cymbopogon caesius litter decomposition and to identify fungal flora associated with the litter during different stages of decomposition in a tropical grassland. Rate of litter decomposition was several times higher than in temperate grasslands. Buried litter decayed more rapidly and this rate was not influenced by climatic conditions. In contrast, surface litter recorded a lower decomposition rate which was dependent on temporal (seasonal) fluctuations. Total nitrogen, available phosphorus and potassium contents of the stem litter decreased during the initial stages of incubation. Thirty-five species of fungi were isolated from the litter during the different stages of litter degradation. Most belonged to Hyphomycetes which are active decomposers.

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