Resource Details

Soil macrofauna and litter nutrients in three tropical tree plantations on a disturbed site in Puerto Rico (Macrofauna y nutrientes del suelo en tres plantaciones de arboles tropicales en un sitio modificado en Puerto Rico)

Literature: Journal Articles

Warren, M. W. & Zou, X. 2002. "Soil macrofauna and litter nutrients in three tropical tree plantations on a disturbed site in Puerto Rico", Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 170, No. 1–3, pp. 161–171.

Contact Info

Corresponding Author:


Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, University of Puerto Rico, P.O. Box 363682, San Juan, PR 00936-3682, USA


Forest Ecology and Management

Selecting the link above redirects this page to the article on the journal website where the online material can be purchased or accessed if with subscription. For more information on access, see sidebar.

Species Info

  • Leucaena leucocephala (regional) 
  • Casuarina equisetifolia (exotic)
  • Eucalyptus robusta (exotic)


  • This study measured soil macrofauna (earthworms, millipedes, beetles, etc.) and soil litter nutrients in 9-year old plantations of Leucaena, Casuarina, and Eucalyptus in Puerto Rico (plantation sites had previously been abandoned pasture). 
  • Litter feeding organisms are known to have a significant effect on soil quality - Anderson et al. (1985) finds that they accelerate N mineralization and nutrient fluxes.  Tian et al. (1993) find that soil fauna in tropical systems will rapidly accelerate decomposition rates and enhance nutrient mobilization.
  • The study found that two millipede species were dominant and one earthworm species had patchy distribution (other organisms such as beetles were few). Millipede abundance and biomass was significantly greater in the Leucaena plantation, while earthworm and other macrofauna abundance and richness were not significantly different.
  • The initial organic soil layer (Oi) mass was lower in the Leucaena plantation (but overall soil mass did not differ). The Oi layer contained lower nutrient concentrations than the deeper layers (nutrients move down into the soil profile as they decompose).
  • Leucaena and Casuarina had higher N concentrations in the Oi layer, but other nutrient concentrations (P, K, Mg, Ca) were not different (nor were they different in the deeper layers). 
  • The study concludes that forest floor litter varied in quality (nutrient composition) but not in quantity.  Millipedes prefer nutrient rich litter (i.e., they are influenced by chemical properties such as the N-fixing tree Leucaena) whereas earthworms are only influenced by higher order controls of physical conditions.  
  • Nutrient concentration was higher in the Oi layer for Leucaena but was still immobilized (not available to plants), and at deeper layers, converged with the nutrient concentrations of the other plantations.

Geographical Region

  • Caribbean Islands
  • This database is a work in progress, and we need your input to keep it up to date. Feel free to contact ELTI at to provide information on your own work as well as other projects and literature currently missing from the database.


    ELTI is a joint initiative of:
    Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute