Dinitrogen-fixing Acacia species from phosphorus-impoverished soils resorb leaf phosphorus efficiently

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Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) resorption from senescing leaves were studied, and the contribution of N and P cycling through litterfall to soil nutrient patchiness was investigated for four Acacia species in the Great Sandy Desert in north-western Australia. N and P concentrations of mature and recently shed leaves were analysed and compared; soils under the canopies of the shrubs and soils in gaps (open areas) between the shrubs were also analysed and compared for N and P concentrations. Mature leaf P concentrations of the plants were considerably lower than the global average values, and N : P ratios of mature leaves were high. Plants derived 0–75% of their leaf N from symbiotic N2-fixation. N-resorption efficiency was between 0 and 43%, and P-resorption efficiency was between 32 and 79%; all plants were more efficient at P resorption than at N resorption, and litter N : P ratios were significantly higher than mature leaf N : P ratios. Soils of the study sites were P-impoverished. Total soil N and P concentrations were higher under the canopy than in gaps, but bicarbonate-extractable P concentration was higher in gaps. Nutrient cycling through litterfall results in soil nutrient patchiness and forms ‘islands of fertility’ under the canopies of the shrubs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2060
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Early online date30 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


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