Bioavailability of slowly cycling soil phosphorus: major restructuring of soil P fractions over four decades in an aggrading forest.
Although low solubility and slow cycling control P circulation in a wide range of ecosystems, most studies that evaluate bioavailability of soil P use only indices of short-term supply. The objective here is to quantify changes in P fractions in an Ultisol during the growth of an old-field pine forest from 1957 to 2005, specifically changes with organic P (Po) and with inorganic P (Pi) associated with Fe and Al oxides as well as Ca compounds. Changes in soil P were estimated from archived mineral soil samples collected in 1962 shortly after pine seedlings were planted, and on six subsequent occasions (1968, 1977, 1982, 1990, 1997, and 2005) from eight permanent plots and four mineral soil layers (0-7.5, 7.5-15, 15-35, and 35-60 cm). Despite the net transfer of 82.5 kg ha(-1) of P from mineral soil into tree biomass and O horizons, labile soil P was not diminished, as indexed by anion exchange resins, and NaHCO(3) and Mehlich III extractants. An absence of depletion in most labile P fractions masks major restructuring of soil P chemistry driven by ecosystem development. During 28 years of forest growth, decreases were significant and substantial in slowly cycling Po and Pi associated with Fe and Al oxides and Ca compounds, and these accounted for most of the P supplied to biomass and O horizons, and for buffering labile soil fractions as well. Changes in soil P are attributed to the P sink strength of the aggrading forest (at 2.9 kg ha(-1) year(-1) over 28 years); legacies of fertilization, which enriched slowly cycling fractions of Po and Pi; and the changing biogeochemistry of the soil itself.
Richter, DD; Allen, HL; Li, J; Markewitz, D; Raikes, J
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