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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Original research article 11 Dec 2018

Original research article | 11 Dec 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal SOIL (SOIL).

Distribution of phosphorus fractions of different plant availability in German forest soils and their relationship to common soil properties and foliar P concentrations

Jörg Niederberger, Martin Kohler, and Jürgen Bauhus Jörg Niederberger et al.
  • Institute of Forest Sciences, Chair of Silviculture, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

Abstract. Repeated, grid-based forest soil inventories such as the nationwide German forest soil survey (GFSI) aim, among other things, at detecting changes in soil properties and plant nutrition. In these types of inventories, the only information on soil phosphorus (P) is commonly the total P content. However, total P content in mineral soils of forests is usually not a meaningful variable to predict the availability of P to trees. Here we tested a modified sequential P extraction ac-cording to Hedley to determine the distribution of different plant available P fractions in soil samples (0–5 and 10–30 cm depth) from 146 GFSI sites, capturing a wide variety of soil conditions. In addition, we analyzed relationships between these P fractions and common soil proper-ties such as pH, texture, and organic Carbon content (SOC). Total P content among our samples ranged from approximately 60 up to 2800 mg kg−1. The labile, moderately labile, and stable P fractions contributed to 27 %, 51 % and 22 % of total P content, respectively, at 0–5 cm depth. At 10–30 cm depth, the labile P fractions decreased to 15 %, whereas the stable P fractions in-creased to 30 %. These changes with depth were accompanied by a decrease in the organic P fractions. High P contents were related with high pH-values. Whereas the labile P pool increased with decreasing pH in absolute and relative terms, the stable P pool decreased in absolute and relative terms. Increasing SOC in soils led to significant increases in all P pools and in total P. In sandy soils, the P content across all fractions was lower than in other soil texture types. Multiple linear regressions indicated that P pools and P fractions were moderately well related to soil properties (r2 mostly above 0.5), and sand content of soils had the strongest influence. Foliage P concentrations in Pinus sylvestris were reasonably well explained by the labile and moderately labile P pool (r = 0.67) but not so for Picea abies and Fagus sylvatica. Foliage P concentrations could not be related to specific P pools. Our study indicates that soil properties such as pH, C-content or soil texture may be used to predict certain soil P pools of different plant availability, e.g. on the basis of large soil inventories, but foliage P concentrations across tree species appear to be determined by additional variables not considered here.

Jörg Niederberger et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Jörg Niederberger et al.
Jörg Niederberger et al.
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Short summary
At German forest sites, many trees showed a deficiency in P nutrition. Half of soil P is contained in moderately-labile fractions, whereas stable and labile fractions contribute to ca. one quarter of total P. Soil properties such as pH, SOC and soil texture may be used to predict certain P pools in large forest soil inventories. Models using soil properties and soil P pools of different plant availability are not yet adequate to explain the P nutrition status in tree foliage.
At German forest sites, many trees showed a deficiency in P nutrition. Half of soil P is...