Parent Material and Topography Determine Soil Phosphorus Status in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico

Project Description: 

We collected soils from both Icacos and Bisley, in different topographic positions, and analyzed them for phosphorus content.

Abstract from the paper listed below Mage & Porder 2013.

Phosphorus (P) availability in terrestrial ecosystems depends on soil age, climate, parent material, topographic position, and biota, but the relative
importance of these drivers has not been assessed. To ask which factor has the strongest influence on long- and short-timescale metrics of P availability, we sampled soils across a full-factorial combination of two parent materials [quartz diorite (QD) and volcaniclastic (VC)], three topographic positions (ridge, slope, and valley), and across 550 m in elevation in 17 sub-watersheds of the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico. VC rocks had double the P content of QD (600 vs. 300 ppm; P < 0.0001), and soil P was similarly approximately 29 higher in VC-derived soils (P < 0.0001). Parent material also explained the most variance in our two other longtimescale metrics of P status: the fraction of recalcitrant P (56% variance explained) and the loss of P relative to parent material (35% variance explained), both of which were higher on VC-derived soils (P < 0.0001 for both). Topographic position explained an additional 10–15% of the variance in these metrics. In contrast, there was no parent material effect on the more labile NaHCO3- and NaOH-extractable P soil pools, which were approximately 2.59 greater in valleys than on ridges (P < 0.0001). Taken together, these data suggest that the relative importance of different state factors varies depending on the ecosystem property of interest and that parent material and topography can play sub-equal roles in driving differences in ecosystem P status across landscapes.

Research Location: 
Core Area(s) and/or Keywords: 

Soil, phosphorus, topography, rock type, granodiorite, volcaniclastic, nutrients, parent material

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Contact Information
Person(s) Completing This Form: 
Miguel Leon
Stephen Porder Steven Goldsmith Susanna Mage