The adsorption of heavy metals in soils affects their behavior in the environment and their bioavailability to plants. The knowledge of the adsorption mechanisms in competitive systems allows a more realistic evaluation of the metals' behavior in the soil than the single metal adsorption. The objectives of this study were (i) to evaluate Cd, Cu, Ni, and Zn adsorption in 14 surface samples (0-0.2 m) of representative soils of the Brazilian humid-tropical region, in competitive and non-competitive systems, and (ii) to establish metal affinity sequences for each soil, based in the maximum adsorption capacity (MAC) estimated by the Langmuir model. The Rhodic Eutrudox, the Kandiudalf Eutrudox, the Arenic Hapludalf, the Arenic Hapludult and the Typic Argiudoll had the highest metals' adsorption capacity, whereas the Typic Quartzipsamment and the sandy-textured Arenic Hapludult had the lowest values. In general, the MAC values for metals were lower in the competitive than in the non-competitive system. In the non-competitive system, the most common affinity sequence was Cu > Zn > Ni > Cd, whereas the most common sequence was Cu > Cd > Zn > Ni in the competitive system. In general, the Langmuir model fitted well the adsorption data of metals on the studied soils.
heavy metals; competition; tropical soil