U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 55:1735-1740 (1991).


Biota and topography are among the most important factors affecting nutrient status of wildland soils. Knowledge of these relations has a fundamental bearing on management of chaparral ecosystems. This study was conducted to determine the effect of shrub species and topographic aspect on availability of soil N and P in Arizona chaparral soils. Soil was collected under the canopy of 32 randomly selected shrubs, eight each of birchleaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides Nutt.) and shrub live oak (Quercus turbinella Greene) from both north and south aspects. A pot culture technique, using barley (Hordeum vulgare L. var. gustoe) and mountain mahogany (C. montanus Torr.) as test plants, was used to estimate availability of soil N and P. Both test plants showed that shrub species and aspect influenced nutrient availability. Availability of P was very low, while that of N was quite high. Lower availability of P in soils from southerly aspects was associated with low amounts of total soil P, probably the result of long-standing differential erosion between north and south aspects, aggravated by fire. High N availability was probably associated with inputs of N via symbiosis between actinomycetes and mountain mahogany. Higher fertility of soils from oak systems is associated with lower lignin content of litter from these shrubs.