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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Feb 2019

Research article | 26 Feb 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Anoxic conditions maintained high phosphorus sorption in humid tropical forest soils

Yang Lin1,a, Avner Gross1, Christine S. O'Connell1, and Whendee L. Silver1 Yang Lin et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  • acurrent address: Department for Geography and Environmental Development, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Abstract. The strong phosphorus (P) sorption capacity of iron (Fe) and aluminum (Al) minerals in highly weathered, acidic soils of humid tropical forests is generally assumed to be an important driver of P limitation to plants and microbial activity in these ecosystems. Humid tropical forest soils often experience fluctuating redox conditions that reduce Fe and raise pH. It is commonly thought that Fe reduction generally decreases the capacity and strength of P sorption. Here we examined the effects of 14-day oxic and anoxic incubations on soil P sorption dynamics in humid tropical forest soils from Puerto Rico. Contrary to the conventional belief, soil P sorption capacity did not decrease under anoxic conditions, suggesting that soil minerals remain strong P sinks even under reducing conditions. Sorption of P occurred very rapidly in these soils, with at least 60 % of the added P disappearing from the solution within six hours. Estimated P sorption capacities were one order of magnitude higher than the soil total P contents. However, the strength of P sorption under reducing conditions was weaker, as indicated by the increased solubility of sorbed P in NaHCO3 solution. Our results show that highly weathered soil minerals can retain P even under anoxic conditions, where it might otherwise be susceptible to leaching. Anoxic events can also potentially increase P bioavailability by decreasing the strength, rather than the capacity, of P sorption. These results improve our understanding of the redox effects on biogeochemical cycling in tropical forests.

Yang Lin et al.
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Yang Lin et al.
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Short summary
Phosphorus (P) is an important soil nutrient that often limits plant growth and microbial activity in humid tropical forests. These ecosystems receive large amount of rainfall that helps create frequent anoxic events in soils. Our results show that anoxic conditions reduced the strength of soil minerals to bind P, even though a large amount of P was still bound to minerals. Our study suggest that anoxic events could serve as hot moments for plants and microbes to acquire P.
Phosphorus (P) is an important soil nutrient that often limits plant growth and microbial...