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Journal Article

Nutrient Cycling in Australian Savannas

J. A. Holt and R. J. Coventry
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 17, No. 4/5, Savanna Ecology and Management: Australian Perspectives and Intercontinental Comparisons (Jul. - Sep., 1990), pp. 427-432
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845373
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845373
Page Count: 6
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Nutrient Cycling in Australian Savannas
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Abstract

Because Australian savannas generally occur on soils that are nutrient deficient, their productivity is dependent upon the rapid recycling of nutrients locked up in the plant biomass. Soil microorganisms play a major role in the decomposition of organic matter and cycling of nutrients in savannas, but their activity is restricted to the wet season. Termites are widespread in the dry tropics of the world and exert a significant effect on nutrient cycling. The results of studies in the Townsville region of north Queensland suggest that termites might be responsible for up to 20% of organic matter decomposition. The erosional redistribution of termite mound materials is a process which can supply the infertile surface soil with a nutrient enriched soil amendment. Fire is also an active agent in nutrient cycling in some savanna systems. The ecological advantage of this mechanism of nutrient cycling is maintained only if losses by volatilization and atmospheric dispersion are balanced by other inputs.

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