Acta Biológica Colombiana
Print version ISSN 0120-548X
ROMERO-TORRES, MAURICIO and VARELA RAMIREZ, AMANDA. Edge Effect on the Decomposition Process of Leaf Litter in Cloud Forest. Acta biol.Colomb. [online]. 2011, vol.16, n.2, pp. 155-174. ISSN 0120-548X.
Forest fragments are physically delimited by edges and encircled by a surrounding matrix. The interaction between these communities dissimilar in structure and composition is defined as the edge effect. This occurrence generates local abiotic and biotic changes altering soil ecosystem processes. To determine the existence of the effect on leaf litter decomposition and its control factors, two fragments of cloud forest in the southwest region of the Bogotá Savannah were selected. Within each, two 64 m long transects were laid out bearing east and west from edge to center respectively, a leaf litter decomposition experiment of a 90 to 180 day duration was set up at seven distances measured from the starting point of each transect. The percentage of leaf litter moisture and decomposition, vegetation density, anamorphic fungi density and carbon:nitrogen ratio were estimated at each point. The maximum distance of the edge effect on the decomposition was determined, and the interaction between orientation, distance and the regulating factors of the decomposition process were ascertained. The results established an effect of the cardinal orientation of the edge on the decomposition and its regulating factors. Marked edge effects on leaf litter moisture extending up to 7 m and up to 30 m on vegetation density were displayedin Eastern border areas. In forest areas, decomposition was regulated by leaf litter moisture and its C:N ratio. The limited penetration of edge effect suggests minor effects regarding nutrient cycles and provides justification and additional value to the use of small fragments.
Keywords : tropical forest; regulation; fragmentation; moisture; orientation.