Global patterns and drivers of soil total phosphorus concentration

He, Xianjin; Augusto, Laurent; Goll, Daniel S.; Ringeval, Bruno; Wang, Yingping; Helfenstein, Julian; Huang, Yuanyuan; Yu, Kailiang; Wang, Zhiqiang; Yang, Yongchuan; Hou, Enqing


Soil represents the largest phosphorus (P) stock in terrestrial ecosystems. Determining the amount of soil P is a critical first step in identifying sites where ecosystem functioning is potentially limited by soil P availability. However, global patterns and predictors of soil total P concentration remain poorly understood. To address this knowledge gap, we constructed a database of total P concentration of 5275 globally distributed (semi-)natural soils from 761 published studies. We quantified the relative importance of 13 soil-forming variables in predicting soil total P concentration and then made further predictions at the global scale using a random forest approach. Soil total P concentration varied significantly among parent material types, soil orders, biomes, and continents and ranged widely from 1.4 to 9630.0 (median 430.0 and mean 570.0) kg-1 across the globe. About two-thirds (65%) of the global variation was accounted for by the 13 variables that we selected, among which soil organic carbon concentration, parent material, mean annual temperature, and soil sand content were the most important ones. While predicted soil total P concentrations increased significantly with latitude, they varied largely among regions with similar latitudes due to regional differences in parent material, topography, and/or climate conditions. Soil P stocks (excluding Antarctica) were estimated to be 26.8±3.1 (mean±standard deviation)Pg and 62.2±8.9Pg (1PgCombining double low line1×1015g) in the topsoil (0-30cm) and subsoil (30-100cm), respectively. Our global map of soil total P concentration as well as the underlying drivers of soil total P concentration can be used to constraint Earth system models that represent the P cycle and to inform quantification of global soil P availability. Raw datasets and global maps generated in this study are available at 10.6084/m9.figshare.14583375 (He et al., 2021).