A new study conducted in the Hawaiian Islands has revealed that landscape and erosion play crucial roles in determining soil fertility in tropical ecosystems.
"This study is the first to accurately predict the distribution of nutrients across a complex tropical forest landscape, and then to detect these shifts in nutrient status using airborne sensors," says Stanford University graduate student Stephen Porder, lead author of the study, which will be published in this weeks online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Porders co-authors are Carnegie Institution scientist Gregory P. Asner, an assistant professor (by courtesy) of geological and environmental sciences at Stanford; and Peter M. Vitousek, the Clifford G. Morrison Professor in Population and Resource Studies at Stanford. "Tropical soils often are assumed to be highly weathered and thus nutrient depleted," the authors write. But the study, which focused on the island of Kauai, revealed a complex "biogeochemical patchwork with almost equal areas of high and low nutrient availability."
Mark Shwartz | EurekAlert!
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