Decomposition of litter on the forest floor and of leaves of five species, Celtis zenkeri, Cola lepidota, Desbordesia glaucescens, Ceiba pentandra and Terminalia superba in nylon mesh bags, as well as wood decay were studied in the tropical rainforest at Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve, Cameroon.
The rate of loss of dry matter was fastest in Celtis zenkeri which was significantly different from the other species, while potassium was the most rapidly released element from all species with more than 50% being released in the first two months of the experiment. Nitrogen and phosphorus showed initial increases in bagged leaf litter independent of dry weight losses and while nitrogen was later released phosphorus continued to increase reaching 2–3 times the initial concentration. Decomposition constant (k) of litter on the forest floor was found to be 2.23 whereas the mean decomposition constants of the different species were as follows: Celtis zenkeri 4.18, Cola lepidota 2.18, Desbordesia glaucescens 1.60 and Ceiba pentandra 2.16 for the two experiments.
Termites were found to have a very great influence on the decay of the wood of Terminalia superba with decay due to micro-organisms being negligible.