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Anoxic conditions maintained high phosphorus sorption in humid tropical forest soils

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Created: Nov 18, 2019 at 4:28 p.m.
Last updated: Nov 18, 2019 at 8:42 p.m.
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The strong phosphorus (P) sorption capacity of iron (Fe) and aluminium (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 much higher, often by an order of magnitude, 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.

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Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees



Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
National Science Foundation DEB-1457805
NSF Luquillo CZO EAR-1331841
NSF LTER DEB-0620910
DOE TES-DE-FOA-0000749

How to Cite

Lin, Y., A. Gross, C. S. O’Connell, W. L. Silver (2019). Anoxic conditions maintained high phosphorus sorption in humid tropical forest soils, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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