Typhoon effects on litterfall in a subtropical forest

Kuo Chuan Lin, Steven P. Hamburg, Sheng Lin Tang, Yue Joe Hsia, Teng Chiu Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


The litterfall in a subtropical broadleaf forest within the Fushan Experimental Forest in northeastern Taiwan was monitored for 9 years. Mean annual litterfall was very sensitive to typhoon frequency and intensity, ranging from 3 to 11 Mg·ha-1·year-1. Litterfall was significantly higher in years with strong typhoons than in years without typhoons, and the number of strong typhoons explained 82% of interannual variation in litterfall. Nutrient-use efficiency (dry mass/ nutrients in litterfall) was high for N, but low for P compared with other tropical forests. This result supports the idea that the study forest is P limited but not N limited. Nutrient loss via litterfall represents a large percentage of aboveground biomass, especially during years with strong typhoons (e.g., 19%-41%, 15%-40%, 5%-12%, for N, P, and K, respectively). Forests that experience infrequent wind disturbance (e.g., temperate or boreal forests) can gradually regain any lost nutrients prior to the next disturbance; this is different from the situation observed in the Fushan Experimental Forest. At Fu-shan the pattern of not responding to typhoons with a flush of new growth appears to be an adaptation to the frequency with which there are multiple typhoons affecting the forest in a single year. Nutrient loss in litterfall caused by frequent typhoon disturbances appears to limit tree growth and contributes to the very low canopy height of the Fushan Experimental Forest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2184-2192
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Nov
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Forestry
  • Ecology


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