Advertisement

Plant and Soil

, Volume 412, Issue 1–2, pp 143–150 | Cite as

The incidence of low phosphorus soils in Australia

  • Robert M. KooymanEmail author
  • Shawn W. Laffan
  • Mark Westoby
Regular Article

Abstract

Background

Low phosphorus (P) soils have been described as a widespread characteristic of the Australian continent and associated with sclerophyll leaf traits. In that context we ask: what proportion of the continent is low-P and how much does this vary between regions?

Methods

9234 locations sampled for soil total P from the Australian National Site Soil Data Collation were analysed. In order to make some adjustment for uneven spatial sampling we area-weighted the data using subregions from the Interim Bioregionalisation of Australia.

Results

Topsoil total P concentrations ≤100 mg kg−1 were widespread, but not a majority of the continent (estimated 25 %). The western Monsoon Tropics (65 %), southwestern Australia (50 %), and southeast South Australia (38 %) were estimated to have larger fractions of the sampled landscape ≤100 mg kg−1 than eastern Australia (13.5 %), but not a lower range of values. Total P values across the continent included a large fraction (33 %) in the range 101–250 mg kg−1.

Conclusions

Continent-wide soil P levels low enough to favour long leaf lifespans for nutrient conservation and a variety of sclerophyll traits were widespread. It is time to move away from the qualitative dichotomies between low- and high-P that have characterised discussion of Australian vegetation, to a more quantitative view.

Keywords

Australia Frequency distributions Low phosphorus soils Regions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank: State agencies including Department of Land Resource Management, Northern Territory of Australia; Victoria - Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources; New South Wales – Office of Environment and Heritage; Queensland - Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts; and all contributors to the NSSDC for data access. We also thank CSIRO staff including Raphael Viscarra-Rossell, Elisabeth Bui, and Ross Searle for discussions in relation to the SLGA, and Ross Searle for providing the NSSDC data; David Warton (UNSW) for assistance with statistics; Will Cornwell (UNSW) for assistance with R-code for data cleaning, filtering and synthesis; and Ian Wright (MQU) and three anonymous reviewers for providing valuable comments and suggestions. The project was supported by Macquarie University and the Australian Research Council through an Australian Laureate Fellowship to MW. RK was supported by a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Macquarie University.

Supplementary material

11104_2016_3057_MOESM1_ESM.docx (211 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 210 kb)

References

  1. Andrews EC (1916) The geological history of the Australian flowering plants. Am J Sci 42:171–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asner GP, Knapp DE, Anderson CB, Martin RE, Vaughn N (2016) Large-scale climatic and geophysical controls on the leaf economics spectrum. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1604863113 PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Australia’s bioregions - IBRA (2012) Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Commonwealth of Australia (Accessed Jan 2016) https://www.environment.gov.au/land/nrs/science/ibra/australias-bioregions-maps
  4. Australia’s ecoregions (2012) Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Commonwealth of Australia (Accessed Jan 2016) https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/3a086119-5ec2-4bf1-9889-136376c5bd25/files/ecoregionscapad2012.pdf
  5. Beadle NCW (1953) The edaphic factor in plant ecology with a special note on soil phosphates. Ecology 34:426–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beadle NCW (1954) Soil phosphate and the delimitation of plant communities in eastern Australia. Ecology 35:370–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beadle NCW (1962) Soil phosphate and the delimitation of plant communities in eastern Australia II. Ecology 43:281–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beadle NCW (1966) Soil phosphate and its role in molding segments of the Australian flora and vegetation, with special reference to xeromorphy and sclerophylly. Ecology 47:992–1007CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang SC, Jackson ML (1957) Fractionation of soil phosphorus. Soil Sci 84:133–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen CR, Hou EQ, Condron LM, Bacon G, Esfandbod M, Olley J, Turner BL (2015) Soil phosphorus fractionation and nutrient dynamics along the Cooloola coastal dune chronosequence, southern Queensland, Australia. Geoderma 257–258:4–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Coomes D, Bentley W, Tanentzap A, Burrows L (2013) Soil drainage and phosphorus depletion contribute to retrogressive succession along a New Zealand chronosequence. Plant Soil 367:77–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cornelissen JHC, Aerts R, Cerabolini B, Werger MJA, van der Heijden MGA (2001) Carbon cycling traits of plant species are linked with mycorrhizal strategy. Oecologia 129:611–619CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Crisp MD, Cook LG (2013) How was the Australian flora assembled over the last 65 million years? A molecular phylogenetic perspective. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 44:303–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cunningham SA, Summerhayes B, Westoby M (1999) Evolutionary divergences in leaf structure and chemistry, comparing rainfall and soil nutrient gradients. Ecol Monogr 69:569–588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diels L (1906) Die vegetation der Erde 7. Die pflanzenwelt von West-Australien siidlich des wendekreises. Engelmann, LeipzigGoogle Scholar
  16. Fonseca CR, Overton JM, Collins B, Westoby M (2000) Shifts in trait combinations along rainfall and phosphorus gradients. J Ecol 88:964–977CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hill RS (1998) Fossil evidence for the onset of xeromorphy and scleromorphy in Australian Proteaceae. Aust Syst Bot 11:391–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hopper SD (2009) OCBIL theory: towards an integrated understanding of the evolution, ecology and conservation of biodiversity on old, climatically buffered, infertile landscapes. Plant Soil 322:49–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnston R, Barry S, Bleys E, Bui E, Moran C, Simon DP, Carlile P, McKenzie N, Henderson B, Chapman G, Imhoff M, Maschmedt D, Howe D, Grose C, Schoknecht N, Powell B, Grundy M (2003) Asris: the database. Soil Res 41:1021–1036CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jones R, Groves RH, Specht RL (1969) Growth of heath vegetation III. Growth curves for heaths in southern Australia: a reassessment. Aust J Bot 17:309–314Google Scholar
  21. Kruse J, Abraham M, Amelung W, Baum C, Bol R, Kühn O, Lewandowski H, Niederberger J, Oelmann Y, Rüger C, Santner J, Siebers M, Siebers N, Spohn M, Vestergren J, Vogts A, Leinweber P (2015) Innovative methods in soil phosphorus research: a review. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 178:43–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laliberté E, Turner BL, Costes T, Pearse SJ, Wyrwoll K-H, Zemunik G, Lambers H (2012) Experimental assessment of nutrient limitation along a 2-million-year dune chronosequence in the South-Western Australia biodiversity hotspot. J Ecol 100:631–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lambers H, Brundrett MC, Raven JA, Hopper SD (2010) Plant mineral nutrition in ancient landscapes: high plant species diversity on infertile soils is linked to functional diversity for nutritional strategies. Plant Soil 334:11–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Orians GH, Milewski AV (2007) Ecology of Australia: the effects of nutrient-poor soils and intense fires. Biol Rev 82:393–423CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Patton RT (1933) The Cheltenham flora. Proc Roy Soc Victoria 45:205–218Google Scholar
  26. Peltzer DA, Wardle DA, Allison VJ, Baisden WT, Bardgett RD, Chadwick OA, Condron LM, Parfitt RL, Porder S, Richardson SJ, Turner BL, Vitousek PM, Walker J, Walker L (2010) Understanding ecosystem retrogression. Ecol Monogr 80:509–529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. R Development Core Team R (2015) A language and environment for statistical computing http://www.R-project.org/ (R Foundation for Statistical Computing)
  28. Reed S, Vitousek P, Cleveland C (2011) Are patterns in nutrient limitation belowground consistent with those aboveground: results from a 4 million year chronosequence. Biogeochemistry 106:323–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Richardson SJ, Peltzer DA, Allen RB, McGlone MS, Parfitt ML (2004) Rapid development of phosphorus limitation in temperate rainforest along the Franz Josef soil chronosequence. Oecologia 139:267–276CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Schimper FW (1903) Plant-geography upon a physiological basis. Fisher WR (Transl.) Clarendon Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Searle R (2014) The Australian site data collation to support the GlobalSoilMap. In: Arrouays D, McKenzie N, Hempel J, de Forges AR, McBratney AB (eds) GlobalSoilMap: basis of the global spatial soil information system. CRC Press, London, pp. 127–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sparks DL, Page AL, Helmke PA, Loeppert RH (1996) Methods of Soil analysis, Part 3, Chemical Methods. Soil Science Society of America Inc., MadisonGoogle Scholar
  33. Specht RL (1963) Dark Island heath (ninety-mile plain, South Australia) VII the effect of fertilizers on composition and growth, 1950-1960. Aust J Bot 11:67–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Specht RL (1969a) A comparison of the sclerophyllous vegetation characteristic of Mediterranean type climates in France, California, and southern Australia. I. Structure, morphology, and succession. Aust J Bot 17:277–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Specht RL (1969b) A comparison of the sclerophyllous vegetation characteristic of Mediterranean type climates in France, California, and southern Australia. II. Dry matter, energy, and nutrient accumulation. Aust J Bot 17:293–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Specht RL, Rayson P (1957) Dark Island heath (ninety-mile plain, South Australia) I definition of the ecosystem. Aust J Bot 5:52–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Specht RL, Rundel PW (1990) Sclerophylly and foliar nutrient status of mediterranean-climate plant communities in southern Australia. Aust J Bot 38:459–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Specht RL, Rayson P, Jackman ME (1958) Dark Island heath (Ninety-Mile Plain, South Australia) VI Pyric succession: changes in composition, coverage, dry weight, and mineral nutrient status. Aust J Bot 6:59–88Google Scholar
  39. Turner BL, Wells A, Andersen KM, Condron LM (2012) Patterns of tree community composition along a coastal dune chronosequence in lowland temperate rain forest in New Zealand. Plant Ecol 213:1525–1541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Vitousek PM, Porder S, Houlton BZ, Chadwick OA (2010) Terrestrial phosphorus limitation: mechanisms, implications, and nitrogen–phosphorus interactions. Ecol Appl 20:5–15CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Walker TW, Syers JK (1976) The fate of phosphorus during pedogenesis. Geoderma 15:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Walker J, Thompson CH, Jehne W (1983) Soil weathering stage, vegetation succession, and canopy dieback. Pac Sci 37:471–481Google Scholar
  43. Westoby M (1988) Comparing Australian ecosystems to those elsewhere. Bioscience 38:549–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wright IJ, Westoby M (1999) Differences in seedling growth behaviour among species: trait correlations across species, and trait shifts along nutrient compared to rainfall gradients. J Ecol 87:85–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wright IJ, Westoby M (2002) Leaves at low versus high rainfall: coordination of structure, lifespan and physiology. New Phytol 155:403–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wright IJ, Westoby M (2003) Nutrient concentration, resorption and lifespan: leaf traits of Australian sclerophyll species. Funct Ecol 17:10–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wright IJ, Reich PB, Westoby M (2001) Strategy shifts in leaf physiology, structure and nutrient content between species of high- and low-rainfall and high- and low-nutrient habitats. Funct Ecol 15:423–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wright IJ, Westoby M, Reich PB (2002) Convergence towards higher leaf mass per area in dry and nutrient-poor habitats has different consequences for leaf life span. J Ecol 90:534–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wright IJ, Reich PB, Westoby M (2003) Least-cost input mixtures of water and nitrogen for photosynthesis. Am Nat 161:98–111PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Wright IJ, Reich PB, Westoby M, Ackerly DD, Baruch Z, Bongers F, et al. (2004) The worldwide leaf economics spectrum. Nature 428:821–827CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert M. Kooyman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shawn W. Laffan
    • 2
  • Mark Westoby
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental ScienceUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations