Biological potential of four indigenous tree species from seasonally dry tropical forest for soil restoration

Eliane Ceccon, Itzel Sánchez, Jennifer S. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Litterfall and its subsequent decomposition in the soil are two essential ecosystem processes. In order to determine the biological potential of a species to aid soil restoration, it is necessary to evaluate litter production, its temporal variation, and rates of decomposition and nutrient cycling. In this study, we examined patterns of litterfall production, quality, and decomposition of two slow-growing (Crescentia alata and Eysenhardtia polystachya) and two fast-growing (Leucaena leucocephala and Pithecellobium dulce), multi-purpose indigenous species from seasonally dry tropical forest, in a 10-year-old plantation in Morelos, Mexico. Average litterfall was 7.82 ± 2.69 Mg ha−1 year−1 and varied significantly among species as follows: P. dulce > L. leucocephala > C. alata = E. polstachya. Leaf litter comprised the highest fraction in all species studied. In a litterbag experiment, all species had fast mass loss in the first 183 days of decomposition, coinciding with the rainy season. L. leucocephala had significantly higher decomposition than the other species. Nitrogen percentages increased significantly as decomposition progressed for all species except for E. polystachya while Carbon percentages during decomposition significantly decreased only in C. alata and L. leucocephala. C. alata had the highest average C/N ratio and L. leucocephala the lowest. We recommended for soil biological restoration, P. dulce because it is a fast-growing tree, with a rapid canopy closure and a high litter production and L. Leucocephala, which produces large amounts of rapidly decomposing mulch with high amount of nutrients, which can be rapidly released into the soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-467
Number of pages13
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 26 2015


  • Agroforestry systems
  • Carbon
  • Decomposition rate
  • Litterfall
  • Multi-purpose species
  • Nitrogen


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