Spatial patterns of P fractions and chemical properties in soils of two native shrub communities in Senegal

Abstract

Two shrub species (Piliostigma reticulatum (D.C.) Hochst (Caesalpinioideae) and Guiera senegalensis J.F. Gmel (Combretaceae) are commonly found in farmers’ fields at varying densities in semi-arid Senegal and throughout the Sahel where soils have chronically low phosphorus (P) availability. It seems plausible that shrub litter and the rhizospheres could influence P fractions and other chemical soil properties that affect crop productivity. Thus, a study was done at two sites, on the distribution of inorganic and organic soil P pools, organic C levels, and pH in soil beneath and outside the canopies of P. reticulatum and G. senegalensis (0-30 cm depth). Both sites had low total P ranging from 64 mg P kg−1 to 135 mg P kg-1, and low extractable PO4 (resin Pi) (1–6 mg P kg−1) with P fractions dominated by NaOH-P. Organic P (Po) made up about 50% of total P, and most of the organic P (>60%) was found in the NaOH-P fractions. The labile P, particularly bicarb-Po was higher in soil beneath shrub canopies (8.4 mg P kg −1), than outside the canopy (6.2 mg P kg −1). Similarly, C, N and P to a lesser extent, were more concentrated beneath shrub canopies. P. reticulatum soil was dominated by the NaOH-Po fraction, whereas G. senegalensis had higher bicarb-Po at one of the study sites. An index of biologically available organic P (Bicarb-Po) / (Bicarb-Po + Bicar-Pi + Resin Pi) was  > 60% and indicates that biological processes represent an important part of P cycling in these shrub ecosystems. The differential ability of shrubs in modifying soil chemical properties under their canopies has major implications for biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and C in sandy soils of semi arid Sahelian ecosystems.

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Abbreviations

Pi :

Inorganic P

Po :

Organic P

1R:

One canopy radius

3R:

Three canopy radiuses

2R:

Two canopy radiuses

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Acknowledgements

This study was conducted as part of the Coupled Biogeochemical Cycles/Biocomplexity Grant No. 0120732 funded by the National Science Foundation. The authors wish to thank the following people: Pape Omar Dieye, El Hadj Moussa Diop, Younouss Tamba, Mohr Fall and Mahecor Diouf for their assistance in data collection and labwork; Dr. Ibrahima Diedhiou for helping with description of herbaceous vegetation between shrub stands; Joan Sandeno for editorial comments; Dr. Cliff Pereira for statistical assistance; Dr. Kate Lajtha for graciously providing the anion resin strips; Dr. Fred Kizito for providing the bulk density data.

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Correspondence to R. P. Dick.

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Responsible Editor: Hans Lambers.

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Dossa, E.L., Diedhiou, S., Compton, J.E. et al. Spatial patterns of P fractions and chemical properties in soils of two native shrub communities in Senegal. Plant Soil 327, 185–198 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-009-0044-8

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Keywords

  • Canopy soil
  • P fractions
  • Sahel
  • Semi-arid
  • Shrubs
  • Total C