Effects of Acacia invasion on leaf litter nutrient and soil properties of coastal Kerangas forests in Brunei Darussalam
Exotic Acacia were introduced to Brunei Darussalam in the 1990s for plantation forestry and land rehabilitation but are now regarded as invasive. We assessed the effects of Acacia on litter nutrient composition and soil physicochemical properties of Brunei’s coastal Kerangas (heath) forests. Soil and litter samples were collected from ten 20 x 20 m plots in Acacia-invaded Kerangas forests (IKF) and ten uninvaded (UKF) plots. Soil samples were analyzed for pH, gravimetric water content and nutrient concentrations whereas litter samples were analyzed for total nutrients only. We recorded significantly higher concentrations of litter total N and P in the IKF than the UKF plots. In contrast, no significant differences were detected in soil properties, except for topsoil available P and subsoil exchangeable Ca which were both lower in the IKF plots. A significant positive correlation was detected between litter N and topsoil N in the IKF plots. We suggest that the fairly recent timescale of Acacia invasion (< 25 years) of the IKF sites resulted in the lack of significant increase of soil nutrients. In conclusion, Acacia invasion into Brunei’s forests can potentially alter both leaf litter and soil physicochemical properties of Kerangas forests, in particular affecting nutrient availability. This alteration of ecosystem may further enhance the invasion success of Acacia, making restoration attempts more challenging.