Biomass and litterfall in a native lowland rainforest: Marelongue Reserve, La Réunion Island, Indian Ocean.
La Réunion Island (Indian Ocean) is one of the tropical oceanic islands that exhibits a lowland forest still not destroyed by human activities and by introduced species. In order to protect and conserve native intact habitats, information concerning their functioning is needed. We measure the biomass and litterfall of the Marelongue Reserve lowland rainforest on a permanent plot and examine what is the part played by the different species as well as the role of seasonality and cyclones. The total biomass estimated at 535 t/ha is relatively consistent with biomasses measured in other tropical forests. Over 92% of the biomass is due to 10 species only. The annual fine litterfall, measured at 7.6 t/ha during the two studied years, is similar to annual litterfall measured in similar ecosystems and is strongly affected by cyclones. The litterfall seasonality seemed to be linked to temperature fluctuations, rather than to either of the other two studied climatic factors (rainfall and wind speed). The results of this study will define valuable basic information for conservation and management of fragmented rainforest remnants.