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Biomass and nutrient dynamics in a littoral savanna subjected to annual fires in Congo

Laclau J.P., Sama-Poumba W., De Dieu Nzila J., Bouillet J.P., Ranger J.. 2002. Acta Oecologica, 23 : p. 41-50.

DOI: 10.1016/S1146-609X(02)01132-3

The dynamics of nutrient accumulation were studied between two annual fires in a herbaceous savanna of the Congolese littoral region. Trees and shrubs were not studied because of their very low density. After fire the aboveground biomass increased for 10 months up to a maximum of 520 g m-2. The underground biomass amounted to roughly 630 g m-2 during the dry season and increased after the fire up to a maximum of 870 g m-2 during the rainy season. In the aerial parts, the accumulation dynamics differed according to the type of nutrient: Ca accumulation was steady until the following dry season in proportion to the total biomass, while the pattern of K accumulation was similar to the living biomass dynamic and reached a maximum four months after the fire. N, P and Mg followed a middle course. For the underground biomass, N accumulation reached a maximum value at the end of the rainy season (10 g m-2) and decreased at the beginning of the dry season. Most of this element was incorporated into the root system. During the rainy season, accumulation in the root system was of the same order of magnitude as in the aerial parts for P and Ca, whereas it was much lower for K and Mg. Transfers of nutrients to the atmosphere during the annual burning amounted, respectively, to 85, 25, 39, 21 and 28% of the amounts of N, P, K, Ca and Mg accumulated in the aerial biomass and litter components. Losses during fire were small for P, K, Ca and Mg compared to the available soil reserves, but not for N. The legume Eriosema erici-rosenii ought to play an important role in N input in this ecosystem.

Mots-clés : savane; biomasse; transport des substances nutritives; incendie spontané; fixation de l'azote; congo

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