Phosphorus availability in relation to soil properties and forest productivity in Pinus sylvestris L. plantations
Pinus sylvestris L. productivity in Spanish plantations is driven by P availability, which, in turn, is determined by the activity of soil microorganisms, responsible for inorganic P solubilization; Fe and Al contents, responsible for P retention; and organic matter, which is source of organic P, inhibits its precipitation as insoluble compounds, and reduces P retention.
Phosphorus is often a limiting nutrient in forest ecosystems mainly due to the low solubility of P compounds and the sorption processes occurring in soils.
The main aims of this work were to evaluate soil P availability, to assess which soil properties are driving P availability, and to study whether soil P availability is determining forest productivity in Pinus sylvestris L. plantations in Northern Spain.
Soil properties and forest productivity were studied in 34 plots located in monospecific P. sylvestris plantations. Tiessen and Moir (Canadian Society of Soil Science 75–86, 1993) sequential fractionation method was carried out to determine different forms of soil P and to provide a comprehensive assessment of available P in soils. To explore the relationships between these variables, canonical correlation analyses and Pearson’s correlations were studied.
Significant correlations were found between P fractions and soil properties related to Fe and Al contents, organic matter, and microbial biomass. Besides, significant correlations were found between site index and the studied P fractions except for P extracted with anion exchange membrane (PAEM) and the recalcitrant P fraction.
In the studied soils, P availability is low and the predominant fractions of P are the recalcitrant forms. Aluminum and iron contents in the soils studied play an important role in sorption processes related to the highly and moderately labile P fractions and the organic phosphorus. P availability seems to be regulated by both processes: biochemical mineralization, where phosphatase activity is relevant, and biological mineralization of the soil organic matter. Phosphorus availability affects forest productivity in the Pinus sylvestris plantations studied.
KeywordsSite index Phosphorus fractionation Sequential extraction Labile phosphorus Recalcitrant phosphorus Microbial biomass
The authors are grateful to Elisa Mellado, Temesgen Desalegn, Olga López, and Carlos Alejandro Mendoza for their assistance in the field work; to Carmen Blanco and Juan Carlos Arranz for their advice in laboratory analysis; and to Adele Muscolo for her support in phosphatase activity determination.
This work was financially supported by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of the Spanish Government (AGL2011-29701-C02-02, AGL2014-51964-C2-1-R), the University of Valladolid and Banco Santander (predoctoral grant to T. BUEIS), and the Mediterranean Regional Office of the European Forest Institute (EFIMED; “Short Scientific Visit” grant to T. BUEIS).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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