Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 665–678 | Cite as

Soil and tree response to P fertilization in a secondary tropical forest supported by an Oxisol

  • Daniel Markewitz
  • Ricardo de O. Figueiredo
  • Cláudio J. Reis de Carvalho
  • Eric A. Davidson
Original Paper


Mature tropical forests are considered to be P limited and to cycle P efficiently. Whether P limitations are significant in younger secondary tropical forests, however, remains largely unexplored. This study evaluated P limitation by observing the P fertilizer response of a naturally regenerated 24-year-old forest and its soil. In February 1999, six 20 × 20-m plots were established in secondary forest in the Brazilian Amazon. After 1 year of pre-treatment tree measurements, 50 kg P ha−1 was applied in January 2000 and again in January 2001. Soil sorption of P was relatively low (∼100 μg g−1) in the surface 0–20 cm while sorption increased to ∼180 μg g−1 at 20–50 cm and approached ∼500 μg g−1 for the 50- to 200-cm layers. Soil P in 0–10 cm, measured as sequentially extractable fractions (resin, HCO3-Pi, NaOH-Pi, NaOH-Po, and 1 M HCl), increased shortly after fertilization and could account for nearly all the 50 kg P ha−1 added at each date. During the following 6 years, soil P in fertilized plots declined in all pools other than resin P, and by June 2006, concentrations returned to pre-fertilization levels. Despite the increase in extractable P with fertilization, increased tree growth was not detected from stand age 25 to 31 years. It appears that during secondary forest succession at this site, the forest P cycle was conservative so as to maintain available P at a sufficient concentration to meet forest P demands.


P limitation P fractionation Labile P P sorption 



We would like to acknowledge NASA (grant# NNG06BE88A) and the Largescale Biosphere Atmosphere Project in Brazil for support of this research. We also would like to thank Marco Galang, Aaron Joslin, and Brian McElvany for field or laboratory assistance during this project as well as the UGA Statistical Consulting Center. This project complies with all laws of the USA and Brazil.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Markewitz
    • 1
  • Ricardo de O. Figueiredo
    • 2
  • Cláudio J. Reis de Carvalho
    • 3
  • Eric A. Davidson
    • 4
  1. 1.Warnell School of Forestry and Natural ResourcesThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.EMBRAPA Meio AmbienteJaguariunaBrazil
  3. 3.EMBRAPA Amazônia OrientalBelémBrazil
  4. 4.The Woods Hole Research CenterFalmouthUSA

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