Linking soil phosphorus with forest litterfall resistance and resilience to cyclone disturbance: A pantropical meta-analysis.

Academic Article


  • While tropical cyclone regimes are shifting with climate change, the mechanisms underpinning the resistance (ability to withstand disturbance-induced change) and resilience (capacity to return to pre-disturbance reference) of tropical forest litterfall to cyclones remain largely unexplored pantropically. Single-site studies in Australia and Hawaii suggest that litterfall on low-phosphorus (P) soils is more resistant and less resilient to cyclones. We conducted a meta-analysis to investigate the pantropical importance of total soil P in mediating forest litterfall resistance and resilience to 22 tropical cyclones. We evaluated cyclone-induced and post-cyclone litterfall mass (g/m2 /day), and P and nitrogen (N) fluxes (mg/m2 /day) and concentrations (mg/g), all indicators of ecosystem function and essential for nutrient cycling. Across 73 case studies in Australia, Guadeloupe, Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan, total litterfall mass flux increased from ~2.5 ± 0.3 to 22.5 ± 3 g/m2 /day due to cyclones, with large variation among studies. Litterfall P and N fluxes post-cyclone represented ~5% and 10% of the average annual fluxes, respectively. Post-cyclone leaf litterfall N and P concentrations were 21.6 ± 1.2% and 58.6 ± 2.3% higher than pre-cyclone means. Mixed-effects models determined that soil P negatively moderated the pantropical litterfall resistance to cyclones, with a 100 mg P/kg increase in soil P corresponding to a 32% to 38% decrease in resistance. Based on 33% of the resistance case studies, total litterfall mass flux reached pre-disturbance levels within one-year post-disturbance. A GAMM indicated that soil P, gale wind duration and time post-cyclone jointly moderate the short-term resilience of total litterfall, with the nature of the relationship between resilience and soil P contingent on time and wind duration. Across pantropical forests observed to date, our results indicate that litterfall resistance and resilience in the face of intensifying cyclones will be partially determined by total soil P.
  • Authors

  • Bomfim, Barbara
  • Walker, Anthony P
  • McDowell, Bill
  • Zimmerman, Jess K
  • Feng, Yanlei
  • Kueppers, Lara M
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 2022
  • Published In


  • Biogeochemistry
  • Cyclonic Storms
  • Ecosystem
  • Forests
  • Phosphorus
  • Soil
  • Trees
  • ecosystem function
  • hurricane
  • litterfall
  • nitrogen
  • nutrient cycling
  • soil fertility
  • typhoon
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 35543027
  • Start Page

  • 4633
  • End Page

  • 4654
  • Volume

  • 28
  • Issue

  • 15