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Article

Weathering Intensity and Presence of Vegetation Are Key Controls on Soil Phosphorus Concentrations: Implications for Past and Future Terrestrial Ecosystems

Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
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Soil Syst. 2020, 4(4), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4040073
Received: 2 September 2020 / Revised: 2 December 2020 / Accepted: 13 December 2020 / Published: 15 December 2020
Phosphorus (P) is an essential limiting nutrient in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Understanding the natural and anthropogenic influence on P concentration in soils is critical for predicting how its distribution in soils may shift as climate changes. While it is known that P is sourced from bedrock weathering, relationships between weathering, P, and other soil-forming factors have not been quantified at continental scales, limiting our ability to predict large-scale changes in P concentrations. Additionally, while we know that Fe oxide-associated P is an important P phase in terrestrial environments, the range in and controls on soil Fe concentrations and species (e.g., Fe in oxides, labile Fe) are poorly constrained. Here, we explore the relationships between soil P and Fe concentrations, soil order, climate, and vegetation in over 5000 soils, and Fe speciation in ca. 400 soils. Weathering intensity has a nuanced control on P concentrations in soils, with P concentrations peaking at intermediate weathering intensities (Chemical Index of Alteration, CIA~60). The presence of vegetation (but not plant functional types) affected soils’ ability to accumulate P. Contrary to expectations, P was not more strongly associated with Fe in oxides than other Fe phases. These results are useful both for predicting changes in potential P fluxes from soils to rivers under climate change and for reconstructing changes in terrestrial nutrient limitations in Earth’s past. In particular, soils’ tendency to accumulate more P with the presence of vegetation suggests that biogeochemical models invoking the evolution and spread of land plants as a driver for increased P fluxes in the geological record may need to be revisited. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil fertility; phosphorus cycling; weathering; iron speciation; biogeochemistry soil fertility; phosphorus cycling; weathering; iron speciation; biogeochemistry
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MDPI and ACS Style

Dzombak, R.M.; Sheldon, N.D. Weathering Intensity and Presence of Vegetation Are Key Controls on Soil Phosphorus Concentrations: Implications for Past and Future Terrestrial Ecosystems. Soil Syst. 2020, 4, 73. https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4040073

AMA Style

Dzombak RM, Sheldon ND. Weathering Intensity and Presence of Vegetation Are Key Controls on Soil Phosphorus Concentrations: Implications for Past and Future Terrestrial Ecosystems. Soil Systems. 2020; 4(4):73. https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4040073

Chicago/Turabian Style

Dzombak, Rebecca M., and Nathan D. Sheldon. 2020. "Weathering Intensity and Presence of Vegetation Are Key Controls on Soil Phosphorus Concentrations: Implications for Past and Future Terrestrial Ecosystems" Soil Systems 4, no. 4: 73. https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4040073

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