Litter Quality and Nitrogen Mineralization of Dominant Tree Species in the Ratargul Swamp Forests, Bangladesh

Mohammad Zabed Hossain, Sirajum Munira Hussaini, Md Abul Kashem, Md Mehedi Hasan, Mohammad Ashraful Alam Khan


The present study aimed to study the relationship between litter quality and nitrogen mineralization rate in relation to the adaptation of the dominant tree species Pongamia pinnata, Barringtonia acutangula and Crateva religiosa of the Ratargul freshwater swamp forest in Bangladesh. Three plots were selected as replicates from the forest to collect soil and plant leaf and stem bark samples in such an way that all three species were present in each plot. Fully expanded youngest leaves and stem barks of the plants were collected for the determination of concentrations of nutrient elements such as N, P, K, Na, Ca, Mg and Fe. Defensive chemicals such as phenolics and tannin contents were also determined in leaf samples. Leaf litter of the three species was incubated with soil collected from the same forest in order to examine the effects of leaf litter on the amount of mineralized N in soil. Significant difference was found in N contents of leaf (P < 0.05) and bark (P < 0.02) among the three plant species with the highest mean value in bark (0.663%) and leaf (1.263%) of C. religiosa and that of the lowest in bark (0.233%) and leaf (0.683%) of B. acutangula. Significant difference was also observed in Fe concentration in bark (P < 0.0001) among the three plant species with the highest mean value (0.00085%) in bark of C. religiosa and the lowest in bark (0.00074%) of B. acutangula. Mineralized N in soil incubated with leaf litter decreased significantly compared with that of control soil (without litter) indicating the immobilization of nitrogen in soil. Overall, data of the present study showed interspecific differences in litter quality which could be related with the nitrogen mineralization indicating the implications for the adaptation of the plants of the wetland habitats.



Defensive Chemicals; Immobilization; Incubation; Nutrient Elements; Wetlands


Bardgett, R.D. 2005. The Biology of Soil: A Community and Ecosystem Approach. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K. 254 pages.

Bärlocher, F. and Graça, M. 2005. Methods to Study Litter Decomposition. Springer, New York, USA. 329 pages.

Camenzind, T.; Hättenschwiler, S.; Treseder, K.K.; Lehmann, A. and Rillig, M.C. 2018. Nutrient limitation of soil microbial processes in tropical forests. Ecological Monograph 88: 4-21.

Chapin III, F.S.; Matson, P.A. and Mooney, H.A. 2002. Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. First edition. Springer-Verlag, New York. 398 pages.

Choudhury, J.K.; Biswas, S.R.; Islam, M.S,; Rahman, O. and Uddin, S.N. 2004. Biodiversity of Ratargul Swamp Forest, Sylhet, Bangladesh. IUCN–The World Conservation Union. Bangladesh Country Office, Bangladesh. 16 pages.

Condron, L.M.; Stark, C.; O’Callaghan, M. and Clinton, P.W. 2010. The role of microbial communities in the formation and decomposition of soil organic matter. Pages 81-118, In: Dixon, G.R. and Tilston, E.L. (Editors) Soil Microbiology and Sustainable Crop Production. Springer, Heidelberg

Craine, J.M. and Dybzinski, R. 2013.Mechanisms of plant competition for nutrients, water and light. Functional Ecology 27: 833-840.

Dilly, O.; Bloem, J.; Vos, A. and Munch, J.C. 2004. Bacterial diversity in agricultural soils during litter decomposition. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 70: 468–474.

Gojon, A.; Nacry, P. and Davidian, J-C. 2009. Root uptake regulation: a central process for NPS homeostasis in plants. Current Opinion on Plant Biology 12: 328-338.

Güsewell, S. and Koerselman, W. 2002. Variation in nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations of wetland plants. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 5(1): 37-61.

Hobbie, S.E. 1992. Effects of plant species on nutrient cycling. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 7: 336-339.

Hossain, M.Z.; Okubo, A. and Sugiyama, S. 2010. Effects of grassland species on decomposition of litter and soil microbial communities. Ecological Research 25: 255-261.

Hossain, M.Z.; Aziz, C.B. and Saha, M.L. 2012. Relationships between soil physico-chemical properties and total viable bacterial counts in Sunderban mangrove forests, Bangladesh. The Dhaka University Journal of Biological Science 21(2): 169-175.

Hossain, M.I.; Kashem, M.A. and Osman, K.T. 2014. Fertility status of some forested soils of Chittagong hill tracts, Bangladesh. International Journal of Land Research Science and Technology 3: 82-87.

Hossain, M.Z.; Khan, M.A.A.; Kashem, M.A. and Hoque, S. 2016. Plant community composition in relation to soil physico-chemical properties of the Ratargul swamp forest, Bangladesh. The Dhaka University Journal of Biological Science 25(1): 1-8.

Jackson, M.L. 1958. Soil Chemical Analysis. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 498 pages.

Kashem, M.A.; Ahmed, A.; Hoque, S. and Hossain, M.Z. 2015. Effects of land-use change on the properties of top soil of deciduous Sal forest in Bangladesh. Journal of Mountain Area Research 1: 5-12.

Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation. 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, New York. 497 pages.

Khobra, R.; Ahuja, S. and Singh, B. 2014. Chlorophyll biosynthesis as the basis of iron use efficiency under iron deficiency and its relationship with the phytosiderophore synthesis and release in wheat. Indian Journal of Plant Physiology 19: 330-337.

José, L-J, Cruz-Ramı́rez, A. and Herrera-Estrella, L. 2003. The role of nutrient availability in regulating root architecture. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 6: 280-287.

Maithani, K,; Arunachalam, A,; Tripathi, R.S. and Pandey, H.N. 1998. Influence of leaf litter quality on N mineralization in soils of subtropical humid forest regrowths. Biology and Fertility of Soils 27: 44-50.

McJannet, C.L.; Keddy, P.A. and Pick, F.R. 1995. Nitrogen and phosphorus tissue concentrations in 41 wetland plants: A comparison across habitats and functional groups. Functional Ecology 9(2): 231-238.

Ordoñez, J.C.; Van Bodegom, P.M.; Witte, J-M.; Wright, I.J.; Reich, P.B. and Aerts, R. 2009. A global study of relationships between leaf traits, climate and soil measures of nutrient fertility. Global Ecology and Biogeography 18: 137-149.

Qiu, S.; McComb, A.J. and Bel, R.W. 2008. Ratios of C, N and P in soil water direct microbial immobilisation-mineralization and N availability in nutrient amended sandy soils in southwestern Australia. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 127: 93-99.

Rodrigues, P.M.S.; Gonçalves, C.E.; Schaefer, R.; Silva, J.O.; Ferreira-Júnior, W.G.; dos Santos, R.M. and Neri, A.V. 2018. The influence of soil on vegetation structure and plant diversity in different tropical savannic and forest habitats. Journal of Plant Ecology 11(2): 226–236.

Rossatto, D.R.; Carvalho, F.A. and Haridasan, M. 2015. Soil and leaf nutrient content of tree species support deciduous forests on limestone outcrops as a eutrophic ecosystem. Acta Botanica Brasilica 29: 231-238.

Rout, G.R. and Sahoo, S. 2015. Role of iron in plant growth and metabolism. Reviews in Agricultural Science 3: 1-24.

Schachtman, D.P. and Shin, R. 2007. Nutrient sensing and signaling: NPKS. Annual Review on Plant Biology 58: 47-69.

Scottá. N.A. and Binkley, D. 1997. Foliage litter quality and annual net N mineralization: comparison across North American forest sites. Oecologia 111: 151-159.

Sultana, T,; Hossain, M.Z.; Ahmed, A. and Hoque, S 2013. Decomposition and nutrient release of Sal leaf itter as influenced by legume litter of the Sal forests. Dhaka University Journal of Biological Science 22(2): 183-186.

Tanner, C.C. 1996. Plants for constructed wetland treatment systems. A comparison of the growth and nutrient uptake of eight emergent species. Ecological Engineering 7(1): 59-83.

Thomas, K.D. and Prescott, C.E. 2000. Nitrogen availability in forest floors of three tree species on the same site: the role of litter quality. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 30: 1698–1706.

Vymazal, J. 2007. Removal of nutrients in various types of constructed wetlands. Science of Total Environment 380: 48-65.

Wright, I.J.; Reich, P.B. and Westoby, M. 2001. Strategy-shifts in leaf physiology, structure and nutrient content between species of high and low rainfall and high and low nutrient habitats. Functional Ecology 15: 423-434.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

COPYRIGHT of this Journal vests fully with the National Instional Institute of Ecology. Any commercial use of the content on this site in any form is legally prohibited.