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Detritivore feeding guild and fauna mediated mobilization of energy of nutrient through leaf litter decomposition in natural
ecosystem is of high significance. The ecological suitability of different leaf litter types in improving the biological diversity
and micronutrient status in soil is not clearly understood which is very important for deciding the plant species to be used for
afforestration practice. The present research work was done to study the feeding preference and colonization of two epigeic
earthworms, Perionyx excavatus and Lampito maruti in the decomposing leaf litter of five locally important tree species, cashew,
shal, mango, acacia and eucalyptus. The major nutrient and anti nutrient chemical parameters in these leaf litters were compared.
Rates of degradation of the nutrient parameters of these leaf litters by the two species of epigeic earthworms in microcosoms were
also analysed. The results indicated that P. excavatus and L. mauruti exhibited maximum colonization and feeding preference
for cashew and shal respectively whereas lowest colonization and feeding preference of both the test species were observed in
case of eucalyptus. When antinutrient chemical parameters were compared, highest constitution of polyphenols and tannins were
observed in case of eucalyptus (141.2 ? 12.1 and 113.7 ? 8.2 mg/g) followed by acacia (130 ? 14.5 and 110.7 ? 7.2 mg/g). Shal,
mango and cashew exhibited comparatively lower polyphenol content (92.2 ? 6.1, 84.1 ? 11.3 and 66.6 ? 10.7 mg/g respectively)
and lower tannin content was observed in shal (42.4 ? 8.6 mg/g), cashew (66.6 ? 7.2 mg/g) followed by mango (64.1? 3.1 mg/g).
Rates of degradation (90 days) of nutrient parameters of these leaf litters by the two test species showed significantly higher rates
in micrcosoms with the test specimens in comparison to control indicating the significant role of earthworms as decomposers.
Maximum degradation of reducing sugar, total carbohydrates and proteins were found in cashew followed by shal and mango
which exhibited rates of degradation which did not differ significantly among each other (p<0.05 ) whereas significantly lower
rates of degradation by the test species were found in eucalyptus followed by acacia. The results indicated that higher content
of tannins and polyphenols in case of eucalyptus can be related to the least colonization and feeding preference by the two
test organisms for this tree species. Again higher rates of degradation and thus utilization of nutrient parameters like reducing
sugars, total carbohydrates and proteins in cashew and shal can be related to these leaf litters being preferred as feed and thereby
showing maximum colonization by P. excavatus and L. mauruti respectively. Thus it can be concluded that cashew and shal
can be considered as suitable tree species for afforestation practices for nutrient recycling, soil conservation and environmental
Sayantani Pattanyak did her M.Sc in Zoology from Vidyasagar University in 2006. She is working as an Assistant Teacher in Digha Alankarpur
Mahavidyalay- a Government sponsored high school in West Bengal since 2011. She is a part time registered Ph.D scholar under Vidyasagar
University; W.B. Smt. Pattanayak is currently working on nutritional ecology with respect to forest ecosystem
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