Litterfall production under pine plantations in the southern Andes region of Ecuador


  • Pablo Quichimbo Universidad de Cuenca, Technische Universität Dresden, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja
  • Darío Veintimilla Technische Universität München
  • Yelitza Carrión Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja
  • Leticia Jiménez Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja



forest exotic species, forest biomass, Pinus patula, montane zones, conifers


Litterfall research is an interesting aspect in environmental studies due to its significance in nutrient cycling specially in regions like the Andes where the interactions between biomass production and its decomposition is poorly understood. This study is focusing in the litterfall biomass production under pine plantations in southern Ecuador. The litterfall production was studied for five months at two-week intervals in three pine forest sites located in the southern Andes region of Ecuador. Monthly litterfall production ranged between 1067-1907 kg ha-1, in comparison with other coniferous stands around the world, this study revealed a higher litterfall production for tropical areas and particularly the highest production under pine plantations in the Andes region. This high litterfall production highlights the upmost importance of this forest component as a potential nutrient reservoir involved in the global nutrient cycling under landscapes dominated by this exotic forest specie in the tropical Andes.



Download data is not yet available.


Ashton, M. (2014). Ecological principles and silvicultural techniques for understanding degradation and restoration of tropical rainforests. In Mosandl, R., Weber, M., Stimm, B., Hildebrandt, P. & Knoke, T. (Eds.), Tropical Ecosystems – Between Protection and Production (p. 26). Munich, Germany: Society for Tropical Ecology.
Berg, B. (2014). Decomposition patterns for foliar litter – A theory for influencing factors. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 78, 222–232. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.08.005
Berg, B., Kjønaas, O. J., Johansson, M.-B., Erhagen, B., & Åkerblom, S. (2015). Late stage pine litter decomposition: Relationship to litter N, Mn, and acid unhydrolyzable residue (AUR) concentrations and climatic factors. Forest Ecology and Management, 358, 41–47. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2015.08.032
Berg, B. & Laskowski, R. (2005). Litter decomposition: a guide to carbon and nutrient turnover. Advances in ecological research. 38:448.
Berg, B. & McClaugherty, C. (Eds). (2014). Plant litter: Decomposition, humus formation, carbon sequestration. (Third Edition). Heidelberg, Berlin, Germany: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-38821-7
Buytaert, W., Iñiguez, V. & De Bièvre, B. (2007). The effects of afforestation and cultivation on water yield in the Andean páramo. Forest Ecology and Management, 251(1-2), 22–30. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2007.06.035
Chacón, G., Gagnon, D. & Paré, D. (2009). Comparison of soil properties of native forests, Pinus patula plantations and adjacent pastures in the Andean highlands of southern Ecuador: land use history or recent vegetation effects? Soil Use and Management, 25(4), 427–433. doi:10.1111/j.1475-2743.2009.00233.x
Chave, J., Navarrete, D., Almeida, S., Álvarez, E., Aragão, L., Bonal, D., Châtelet, P., Silva-Espejo, J., Goret, J., von Hildebrand, P., Jiménez, E., Patiño, S., Peñuela, M., Phillips, O., Stevenson, P. & Malhi, Y. (2010). Regional and seasonal patterns of litterfall in tropical South America. Biogeosciences, 7(1), 43–55. doi:10.5194/bg-7-43-2010
Crespo, P., Célleri, R., Buytaert, W., Feyen, J., Iñiguez, V., Borja, P. & De Bievre, B. (2010). Land use change impacts on the hydrology of wet Andean páramo ecosystems. IAHS.
Facelli, J. M. & Pickett, S. (1991). Plant Litter: Its dynamics and effects on plant community structure. The Botanical Review, 57(1), 1–32.
Günter, S., Calvas, B., Lotz, T., Bendix, J., & Mosandl, R. (2013). Knowledge transfer for conservation and sustainable management of natural resources: a case study from southern Ecuador. In Bräuning, A., Makeschin, F., Mosandl, R., Scheu, S. & Wilcke, W. (Eds.), Ecosystem services, biodiversity and environmental change in a tropical mountain ecosystem of south Ecuador (pp. 395–410). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Huber, A. & Oyarzún, C. (1983). Produccion de hojarasca y sus relaciones con factores meteorologicos en un bosque de Pinus radiata (D.Don.). Bosque, 5(1), 1–11.
Jiménez, M. N., & Navarro, F. B. (2016). Thinning effects on litterfall remaining after 8 years and improved stand resilience in Aleppo pine afforestation (SE Spain). Journal of Environmental Management, 169, 174–183.
Knoke, T., Bendix, J., Pohle, P., Hamer, U., Hildebrandt, P., Roos, K., Gerique, A., Sandoval, M., Breuer, L., Tischer, A., Silva, B., Calvas, B., Aguirre, N., Castro, L., Windhorst, D., Weber, M., Stimm, B., Günter, S., Palomeque, X., Mora, J., Mosandl, R., & Beck, E. (2014). Afforestation or intense pasturing improve the ecological and economic value of abandoned tropical farmlands. Nature Communications, 5, 5612. doi:10.1038/ncomms6612
Leischner, B. & Bussmann, R. W. (2003). Mercado y uso de madera en el Sur de Ecuador. Lyonia, 5(1), 51–60.
León, J. D., González, M. I. & Gallardo, J. F. (2010). Distribución del agua lluvia en tres bosques altoandinos de la cordillera central de Antioquia, Colombia. Revista Facultad Nacional de Agronomía Medellín, 63(1), 5319–5336.
Li, Y., Xu, M., Zou, X., Shi, P. & Zhang, Y. (2005). Comparing soil organic carbon dynamics in plantation and secondary forest in wet tropics in Puerto Rico. Global Change Biology, 11(2), 239–248. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2005.00896.x
Liu, C., Westman, C. J., Berg, B., Kutsch, W., Wang, G. Z., Man, R. & Ilvesniemi, H. (2004). Variation in litterfall-climate relationships between coniferous and broadleaf forests in Eurasia. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 13(2), 105–114. doi:10.1111/j.1466-882X.2004.00072.x
Mejía, E. & Pacheco, P. (2013). Aprovechamiento forestal y mercados de la madera en la Amazonía Ecuatoriana. Occasional Paper 97. Bogor, Indonesia: Centro para la Investigación Forestal Internacional (CIFOR).
Mosandl, R. & Günter, S. (2008). Sustainable management of tropical mountain forests in Ecuador. In Gradstein, S., Homeier, J. & Gansert, D. (Eds.), The tropical mountain forest: patterns and processes in a biodiversity hotspot (pp. 177–193). University of Akron Press.
Osman, K. (2013). Forest soils: Properties and Management. Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-02541-4
Paudel, E., Dossa, G. G. O., Xu, J. & Harrison, R. D. (2015). Litterfall and nutrient return along a disturbance gradient in a tropical montane forest. Forest Ecology and Management, 353, 97–106. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2015.05.028
Pérez-Suárez, M., Arredondo-Moreno, J. T., Huber-Sannwald, E. & Vargas-Hernández, J. J. (2009). Production and quality of senesced and green litterfall in a pine-oak forest in central-northwest Mexico. Forest Ecology and Management, 258(7), 1307–1315. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2009.06.031
PNUMA, Ilustre Municipio de Loja, & Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional. (2007). Perspectivas del medio ambiente urbano: GEO Loja. Loja, EC.
Proctor, J. (1983). Tropical forest litterfall. I. Problems of data comparison. In Sutton, S. L., Whitmore, T. C. & Chadwick, A.C. (Eds.), Tropical Rain Forest: Ecology and Management (pp. 267–273). Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.
Quichimbo, P., Amaya, C., Villegas, B., Minchala, L., Cartagena, Y., Veintimilla, D., Jiménez, L. & Hamer, U. (2016). Litterfall and nutrient return between native and exotic forest at southern Ecuadorian Andes. Manuscript in preparation.
Quichimbo, P., Jiménez, L., Tischer, A., & Hamer, U. (2014a). Forest site classification as basis for sustainable silviculture in southern Ecuador. In Mosandl, R. Weber, M, Stimm, B, Hildebrandt, P., Knoke, T. (Eds.), Tropical ecosystems between protection and production. Freising, Germany: The Society for Tropical Ecology - gtö.
Quichimbo, P., Tenorio, G., Borja, P., Cárdenas, I., Crespo, P. & Célleri, R. (2012). Efectos sobre las propiedades físicas y químicas de los suelos por el cambio de la cobertura vegetal y uso del suelo : páramo de Quimsacocha al sur del Ecuador. Suelos Ecuatoriales, 42(2), 138–153.
Quichimbo, P., Veintimilla, D., Ramírez, P., Calvas, B., Jiménez, L. & Hamer, U. (2014b). Soil-vegetation relationship under pine plantations in south Ecuador. Procceding of XX Latin American Congress of Soil Science and XVI Peruvian Congress of Soil. Cusco, Peru.
R Development Core Team (2016). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria.: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Retrieved from
Raich, J. W., Russell, A. E. & Bedoya-Arrieta, R. (2007). Lignin and enhanced litter turnover in tree plantations of lowland Costa Rica. Forest Ecology and Management, 239(1-3), 128–135. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2006.11.016
Ramírez, J. A., León-Peláez, J. D., Craven, D., Herrera, D. A., Zapata, C. M., González-Hernández, M. I., Gallardo-Lancho, J. & Osorio, W. (2014). Effects on nutrient cycling of conifer restoration in a degraded tropical montane forest. Plant and Soil, 378(1-2), 215–226. doi:10.1007/s11104-014-2024-x
Richardson, D. M. (2000). Ecology and Biogeography of Pinus. Cambridge University Press.
Rocha-Loredo, A. G. & Ramírez-Marcial, N. (2009). Producción y descomposición de hojarasca en diferentes condiciones sucesionales del bosque de pino-encino en Chiapas, México. Boletín de La Sociedad Botánica de México, 84, 1–12.
Simberloff, D., Nuñez, M. A., Ledgard, N. J., Pauchard, A., Richardson, D. M., Sarasola, M., van Wilgen, B., Zalba, S., Zenni, R., Bustamante, R., Peña, E., & Ziller, S. R. (2010). Spread and impact of introduced conifers in South America: Lessons from other southern hemisphere regions. Austral Ecology, 35(5), 489–504. doi:10.1111/j.1442-9993.2009.02058.x
van Voss, O., Aguirre, N. & Hofstede, R. (2001). Sistemas forestales integrales para la sierra del Ecuador. (ECOPAR, Ed.). Quito, EC: ABYA-YALA.
Weber, M., Stimm, B. & Mosandl, R. (2011). Review plantations for protective purposes and rehabilitation. In Günter, S., Weber, M., Stimm, B. & Mosandl, R. (Eds.), Silviculture in the tropics SE - 30 (Vol. 8, pp. 475–490). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-19986-8_30.



How to Cite

Quichimbo, P., Veintimilla, D., Carrión, Y., & Jiménez, L. (2016). Litterfall production under pine plantations in the southern Andes region of Ecuador. Enfoque UTE, 7(3), pp. 14 - 25.