Mineral Nutrition of Plants in Australia’s Arid Zone

  • Honghua HeEmail author
  • David J. Eldridge
  • Hans Lambers


Australia’s arid-zone soils are highly leached and resorted (Winkworth 1967; Pillans 2018) and characterised by low levels of available water and nutrients (Orians and Milewski 2007). These soils are particularly low in total phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) (Islam et al. 2000; Bennett and Adams 2001; Grigg et al. 2008a). The distribution of these and other nutrients is typically heterogeneous, due to the development of ‘islands of fertility’ and tight nutrient cycling beneath the canopies of long-lived perennial plants (Tongway and Ludwig 1994; He et al. 2011). Nutrient cycling and decomposition of leaf litter are largely restricted to periods after rain, when bacteria (Skopp et al. 1990; Ford et al. 2007) and cyanobacteria, either free-living or as components of biological soil crusts (biocrusts), are active (Austin et al. 2004). Termites also play an important role in litter decomposition and nutrient cycling and contribute to the patchy distribution of nutrients (Tongway et al. 1989; Park et al. 1994).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess PlateauNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Schoolof Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawley (Perth)Australia

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