Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2020-80
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2020-80

  01 Dec 2020

01 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Patterns of microbial processes shaped by parent material and soil depth in tropical rainforest soils

Laurent K. Kidinda1,2, Folasade K. Olagoke1, Cordula Vogel1, Karsten Kalbitz1, and Sebastian Doetterl3,4 Laurent K. Kidinda et al.
  • 1Chair of Soil Resources and Land Use, Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology, TU Dresden, Germany
  • 2Biogeochemistry and ecology of tropical soils and ecosystems, University of Lubumbashi, DR Congo
  • 3Institute of Geography, Augsburg University, Augsburg, Germany
  • 4Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Microbial processes are one of the key factors driving carbon (C) and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, and are strongly driven by the equilibrium between resource availability and demand. In deeply weathered tropical rainforest soils of Africa, it remains unclear whether patterns of microbial processes differ between soils developed from geochemically contrasting parent materials. Here we show that resource availability across soil depths and regions from mafic to felsic geochemistry shape patterns of soil microbial processes. During a 120-day incubation experiment, we found that microbial biomass C and extracellular enzyme activity were highest in the mafic region. Microbial C limitation was highest in the mixed sedimentary region and lowest in the felsic region, which we propose is related to the strength of contrasting C stabilization mechanisms and varying C quality. None of the investigated regions and soil depths showed signs of nitrogen (N) limitation for microbial processes. Microbial phosphorus (P) limitation increased with soil depth but was similar across geochemical regions, indicating that subsoils in the investigated soils were depleted in rock-derived nutrients and are therefore dependent on efficient biological recycling of nutrients. Microbial C limitation was lowest in subsoils, indicating that subsoil microbes can significantly participate in C cycling and limit C storage if increased oxygen availability is prevalent. Using multivariable regressions, we demonstrate that microbial biomass C normalized to soil organic C content (MBCSOC) is controlled by soil geochemistry and substrate quality, while microbial biomass C normalized to soil weight (MBCSoil) is predominantly driven by resource distribution. We conclude that due to differences in resource availability, microbial processes in deeply weathered tropical rainforest soils greatly vary across geochemical regions which must be considered when assessing soil microbial processes in organic matter turnover models.

Laurent K. Kidinda et al.

 
Status: open (until 17 Feb 2021)
Status: open (until 17 Feb 2021)
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Laurent K. Kidinda et al.

Laurent K. Kidinda et al.

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Short summary
In deeply weathered tropical rainforest soils of Africa, we found that patterns of microbial processes differ between soils developed from geochemically contrasting parent materials due to differences in resource availability. Across investigated geochemical regions and soil depths, soil microbes were P-limited rather than N-limited. Topsoil microbes were more C-limited than their subsoil counterparts but inversely P-limited.