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Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

Print version ISSN 0100-0683On-line version ISSN 1806-9657

Abstract

NETTESHEIM, Felipe Cito; CONTO, Tiago de; PEREIRA, Marcos Gervasio  and  MACHADO, Deivid Lopes. Contribution of Topography and Incident Solar Radiation to Variation of Soil and Plant Litter at an Area with Heterogeneous Terrain. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Solo [online]. 2015, vol.39, n.3, pp.750-762. ISSN 1806-9657.  https://doi.org/10.1590/01000683rbcs20140459.

Natural processes that determine soil and plant litter properties are controlled by multiple factors. However, little attention has been given to distinguishing the effects of environmental factors from the effects of spatial structure of the area on the distribution of soil and litter properties in tropical ecosystems covering heterogeneous topographies. The aim of this study was to assess patterns of soil and litter variation in a tropical area that intercepts different levels of solar radiation throughout the year since its topography has slopes predominantly facing opposing geographic directions. Soil data (pH, C, N, P, H+Al, Ca, Mg, K, Al, Na, sand, and silt) and plant litter data (N, K, Ca, P, and Mg) were gathered together with the geographic coordinates (to model the spatial structure) of 40 sampling units established at two sites composed of slopes predominantly facing northwest and southeast (20 units each). Soil and litter chemical properties varied more among slopes within similar geographic orientations than between the slopes facing opposing directions. Both the incident solar radiation and the spatial structure of the area were relevant in explaining the patterns detected in variation of soil and plant litter. Individual contributions of incident solar radiation to explain the variation in the properties evaluated suggested that this and other environmental factors may play a particularly relevant role in determining soil and plant litter distribution in tropical areas with heterogeneous topography. Furthermore, this study corroborates that the spatial structure of the area also plays an important role in the distribution of soil and litter within this type of landscape, which appears to be consistent with the action of water movement mechanisms in such areas.

Keywords : tropical forest; spatial factors; environmental factors; slope geographic orientation; soil chemistry; litter chemistry.

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