Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 15, issue 1
Biogeosciences, 15, 279-295, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-15-279-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 15, 279-295, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-15-279-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 12 Jan 2018

Research article | 12 Jan 2018

Evaluating the effect of nutrient redistribution by animals on the phosphorus cycle of lowland Amazonia

Corina Buendía1,2, Axel Kleidon1, Stefano Manzoni3,4, Björn Reu5, and Amilcare Porporato6 Corina Buendía et al.
  • 1Biospheric Theory and Modelling group, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans-Knöll Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
  • 2Corporación Colombiana de Investigación Agropecuaria (Corpoica), km 32 vía al mar, vereda Galápagos, Rionegro-Santander, Colombia
  • 3Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 4Bolin Center for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 5Escuela de Biologia, Universidad Industrial de Santander, 680002 Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia
  • 6Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA

Abstract. Phosphorus (P) availability decreases with soil age and potentially limits the productivity of ecosystems growing on old and weathered soils. Despite growing on ancient soils, ecosystems of lowland Amazonia are highly productive and are among the most biodiverse on Earth. P eroded and weathered in the Andes is transported by the rivers and deposited in floodplains of the lowland Amazon basin creating hotspots of P fertility. We hypothesize that animals feeding on vegetation and detritus in these hotspots may redistribute P to P-depleted areas, thus contributing to dissipate the P gradient across the landscape. Using a mathematical model, we show that animal-driven spatial redistribution of P from rivers to land and from seasonally flooded to terra firme (upland) ecosystems may sustain the P cycle of Amazonian lowlands. Our results show how P imported to land by terrestrial piscivores in combination with spatial redistribution of herbivores and detritivores can significantly enhance the P content in terra firme ecosystems, thereby highlighting the importance of food webs for the biogeochemical cycling of Amazonia.

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Short summary
Amazonia is highly biodiverse and of global importance for regulating the climate system. Because soils are highly weathered, phosphorus (P) is suggested to limit ecosystem productivity. Here, we evaluate the importance of P redistribution by animals using a simple mathematical model synthesizing the major processes of the Amazon P cycle. Our findings suggest that food web complexity plays an important role for sustaining the productivity of terra firme forests.
Amazonia is highly biodiverse and of global importance for regulating the climate system....
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