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Table 1 Direct and indirect effect of litter production and decomposition on the physical and chemical environment

From: Role of litter production and its decomposition, and factors affecting the processes in a tropical forest ecosystem: a review

• Reduce the thermal amplitude in the soil• Accumulation of litter intercept light, shading seeds and seedlings, which in turn decreases soil temperature (Krishna and Mohan 2007).
• Reduce evapotranspiration (ET) from the soil• Reduce maximum soil temperatures
• Creates a barrier to water vapor diffusion (Argao et al. 2009).
• Diminish water availability• Litter may retain a large proportion of rainfall (Vitousek and Sanford 1986).
• Reduce seed germination and seedling emergences• Creates a barrier for sprouts and seedling emergence and prevent seeds to reach soils (Chapman and Koch 2007).
• Patchy accumulation of plant litter may alter community structure• Litter of one species may affect the performance of a second species (Chapman and Koch 2007).
• Litter produced by one species may alter the interaction between a second and a third species (Melo et al. 2013).
• Increase CO2 efflux• Microbial decomposition can add more than 20% CO2 efflux to the soil (Krishna and Mohan 2007).
• Increase nutrient return to the soil• Litterfall is a crucial pathway for nutrient return to the soil (Krishna and Mohan 2007).