Phosphorus in Action

Volume 26 of the series Soil Biology pp 371-406


Biological Phosphorus Cycling in Dryland Regions

  • Jayne BelnapAffiliated withUS Geological Survey, Canyonlands Research Station Email author 

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The relatively few studies done on phosphorus (P) cycling in arid and semiarid lands (drylands) show many factors that distinguish P cycling in drylands from that in more mesic regions. In drylands, most biologically relevant P inputs and losses are from the deposition and loss of dust. Horizontal and vertical redistribution of P is an important process. P is concentrated at the soil surface and thus vulnerable to loss via erosion. High pH and CaCO3 limit P bioavailability, and low rainfall limits microbe and plant ability to free abiotically bound P via exudates, thus making it available for uptake. Many invasive plants are able to access recalcitrant P more effectively than are native plants. As P availability depends on soil moisture and temperature, climate change is expected to have large impacts on P cycling.