Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2750
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2750
06 Dec 2023
 | 06 Dec 2023

Vegetation control on nutrient availability and supply in high-elevation tropical Andean ecosystems

Armando Molina, Veerle Vanacker, Oliver Chadwick, Santiago Zhiminaicela, Marife Corre, and Edzo Veldkamp

Abstract. Plants absorb nutrients and water through their roots, and modulate soil biogeochemical cycles. The mechanisms of water and nutrient uptake by plants depend on climatic and edaphic conditions, as well as the plant root system. Soil solution is the medium in which abiotic and biotic processes exchange nutrients, and nutrient concentrations vary with the abundance of reactive minerals and fluid residence times. High-altitude ecosystems of the tropical Andes are particularly interesting to study the association between vegetation patterns, soil hydrology and soil nutrient availability. The páramo landscape forms a vegetation mosaic of bunch-grasses, cushion-forming plants and forests. In the nutrient-depleted nonallophanic Andosols, the plant rooting depth varies with drainage and soil moisture conditions. Vegetation composition is a relevant indicator of rock-derived nutrient availability in soil solutions. The soil solute chemistry revealed patterns in plant available nutrients that were not mimicking the distribution of total rock-derived nutrients nor the exchangeable nutrient pool, but clearly resulted from strong biocycling of cations and removal of nutrients from the soil by plant uptake or deep leaching. Our findings have important implications for future management of Andean páramo ecosystems where vegetation type distributions are dynamically changing as a result of warming temperatures and anthropogenic disturbances. Such alterations may not only lead to changes in soil hydrology and solute geochemistry but also to complex changes in weathering rates and solute export downstream with effects on nutrient availability in Andean rivers and high-mountain lakes.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Armando Molina, Veerle Vanacker, Oliver Chadwick, Santiago Zhiminaicela, Marife Corre, and Edzo Veldkamp

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2750', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Jan 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Armando Molina, 02 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2750', Anonymous Referee #2, 15 Jan 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Armando Molina, 02 Feb 2024

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2750', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Jan 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Armando Molina, 02 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2750', Anonymous Referee #2, 15 Jan 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Armando Molina, 02 Feb 2024
Armando Molina, Veerle Vanacker, Oliver Chadwick, Santiago Zhiminaicela, Marife Corre, and Edzo Veldkamp
Armando Molina, Veerle Vanacker, Oliver Chadwick, Santiago Zhiminaicela, Marife Corre, and Edzo Veldkamp

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Short summary
The tropical Andes contains unique landscapes where forest patches are surrounded by tussock grasses and cushion-forming plants. We showed that patterns in plant available nutrients were not mimicking total rock-derived nutrient’ distribution nor exchangeable nutrient pool but resulted from strong biocycling of cations. Vegetation regulates soil biogeochemistry with impacts on nutrient availability in Andean rivers and lakes.