Soil Science Group

Past and present vegetation induced landscape formation through below-ground carbon and nutrient fluxes along the Chilean coastal cordillera

Plants and their associated microbial community (including mycorrhizal fungi) are supposed to be main drivers of mineral weathering for the purpose of nutrient acquisition from primary and secondary minerals, ranging from the slope over the profile to the mineral surface scale. They increase intensity and spatial heterogeneity of physical and chemical rock weathering to meet their nutrient demand via direct nutrient acquisition and/or nutrient acquisition by symbionts. On the other hand, plants reduce nutrient relocation as they stabilize soil structure thus protecting soil from erosion. This proposal aims to study (i) the quantitative control of plant diversity and root architecture as well as diversity on the redistribution (plant induced uplift, cycling, translocation and leaching) of nutrients (C, N, P, K, Ca, Mg) at the hillslope scale, (ii) to analyze how the studied nutrient cycles are linked to rock weathering status and (iii) to reconstruct plant induced landscape formation and paleoclimate interactions by linking the analyzed weathering processes under present vegetation to paleo-environmental conditions. To reach those goals, this study will combine high resolution nutrient budgeting with enzyme analyses, stable isotope techniques,and molecular biomarker measurements at sites located at the EarthShape study areas Pargue National La Campaña, Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta and Parque Nacional Robleria del Cobre de Loncha as well as in samples derived from local archives (e.g. sediment cores, peat deposits). From this we expect a deeper knowledge about plant-induced landscape formation and mineral weathering over different spatial and temporal scales and a scale-spanning mechanistic understanding of plant-driven nutrient cycling in different climatic regions.


Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes

Project team:

Moritz Köster, Dr. Michaela Dippold (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen),
Prof. Dr. Sandra Spielvogel

Chilean collaborators involved:

Francisco Javier Matus Baeza (Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco),
Roberto Godoy (Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia)