Seasonal fluctuations of extracellular enzyme activities are related to the biogeochemical cycling of C, N and P in a tropical terra-firme forest

Schaap, Karst J.; Fuchslueger, Lucia; Quesada, Carlos Alberto; Hofhansl, Florian; Valverde-Barrantes, Oscar; Camargo, Plínio B.; Hoosbeek, Marcel R.


Extracellular enzymes (EE) play a vital role in soil nutrient cycling and thus affect terrestrial ecosystem functioning. Yet the drivers that regulate microbial activity, and therefore EE activity, remain under debate. In this study we investigate the temporal variation of soil EE in a tropical terra-firme forest. We found that EE activity peaked during the drier season in association with increased leaf litterfall, which was also reflected in negative relationships between EE activities and precipitation. Soil nutrients were weakly related to EE activities, although extractable N was related to EE activities in the top 5 cm of the soil. These results suggest that soil EE activity is synchronized with precipitation-driven substrate inputs and depends on the availability of N. Our results further indicate high investments in P acquisition, with a higher microbial N demand in the month before the onset of the drier season, shifting to higher P demand towards the end of the drier season. These seasonal fluctuations in the potential acquisition of essential resources imply dynamic shifts in microbial activity in coordination with climate seasonality and resource limitation of central-eastern Amazon forests.