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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Earth-Surface Processes