Soil properties and geomorphic processes influence vegetation composition, structure, and function in the Cerrado Domain

Demetrius Lira-Martins, Diego Luciano Nascimento, Anna Abrahão, Patrícia de Britto Costa, André M. D’Angioli, Evérton Valézio, Lucy Rowland, Rafael S. Oliveira

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The Cerrado of central Brazil—the world’s largest Neotropical savanna – is comprised of a mosaic of highly heterogeneous vegetation growing on an extremely diverse geologic and geomorphologic background. Geomorphic processes under stable tectonic and climatic conditions facilitated the development of diverse edaphic properties, which interact with disturbance events to form unique vegetation types. Scope: In this review, we detail how the geophysical environment affects soil formation and evaluate the mechanisms through which edaphic conditions control vegetation structure, floristic diversity and functional diversity. Conclusion: The influence of geomorphic processes on edaphic properties has a marked impact on the ecology and evolution of plant communities. Species exhibit morphological and physiological adaptations that optimise their successful establishment in particular soil conditions. Furthermore, fire disturbance alters these soil-vegetation associations further regulating the structural nature of these communities. Therefore, we propose an integrative view where edaphic, chemical and physical properties act as modulators of vegetation stands, and these conditions interact with the fire regime. The knowledge of plant edaphic niches, their functional traits related to resource acquisition and use, as well as the interaction of edaphic properties and disturbance regimes is paramount to research planning, conservation, and successful restoration of the full diversity of Cerrado vegetation types.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-588
Number of pages40
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2022


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