, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 555-566

Implications of soil organic carbon and the biogeochemistry of iron and aluminum on soil phosphorus distribution in flooded forests of the lower Orinoco River, Venezuela

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Relationships among soil phosphorus distribution, soil organic carbon and biogeochemistry of iron and aluminum were studied along a flooded forest gradient of the Mapire river, Venezuela. Soil samples were collected during the dry season in three zones subjected to different flooding intensity: MAX inundated 8 months per year, MED inundated 5 months per year, and MIN inundated 2 months per year. Total labile phosphorus (resin + bicarbonate extractable fractions) was significantly higher in MIN than in MAX. The longer non-flooding period in MIN probably allowed a higher accumulation of microbial biomass in soils of this zone and consequently a greater release of the bicarbonate organic fraction. The moderately labile phosphorus fraction associated with the chemisorbed phosphorus on amorphous and some crystalline aluminum and iron was significantly lower in MAX than in MIN following the same tendency observed for crystalline iron oxides. This result allowed us to hypothesize that the combined effect of a long flood period and a high soil organic carbon content in the MAX, could be appropriate conditions for microbial reduction of stable forms of iron. The ratio of soil organic carbon to total organic phosphorus decreased from MAX to MIN, indicating higher mineralization of organic phosphorus in MIN. Our results suggests two distinct flood-dependent mechanisms operating for phosphorus release along the gradient. In MAX mineralization process appears to be limited, while microbial mineral dissolution appears to be an important source of phosphorus. In MIN supply of phosphorus is associated with the stability of soil organic matter.