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  Folha Amazônica


ND-06 (Gholz / Oliveira)

LBA Dataset ID:



2. SMITH, C.K.
      3. GHOLZ, H.L.

Point(s) of Contact:

ORNL DAAC User Services Office Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37 (

Dataset Abstract:

We reviewed over 100 studies on nutrient dynamics in natural forests and forest-derived land uses (pasture, shifting cultivation and tree plantations) conducted in Amazonia over the past 40 years. Our objectives were to compare soil data from land uses across Amazonia and identify gaps in present knowledge that offer direction for future research. Specifically, we tested five widely cited hypotheses concerning the effects of land-use change on soil properties by analyzing data compiled from 40 studies in multi-factorial ANOVA models:
- soil pH, effective cation exchange capacity (ECEC), and exchangeable calcium (Ca) concentrations rise and remain elevated following the slash-and-burn conversion of forest to pasture or crop fields,
- soil contents of total carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and inorganic readily (i.e., Bray, Mehlich I or resin) extractable phosphorus (Pi) decline following forest-to-pasture conversion,
- soil concentrations of total C, N, and Pi increase in secondary forests with time since abandonment from agricultural activities,
- soil nutrient conditions under all tree-dominated land-use systems (natural or not) remain the same, and
- higher efficiencies of nutrient utilization occur where soil nutrient pools are lower.

Beginning Date:


Ending Date:


Metadata Last Updated on:


Data Status:


Access Constraints:


Data Center URL:

Distribution Contact(s):

ORNL DAAC User Services Office Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37 (

Access Instructions:


Data Access:

IMPORTANT: The LBA-ECO Project website is no longer being supported. Links to external websites may be inactive. Final data products from the LBA project can be found at the ORNL DAAC. Please follow the fair use guidelines found in the dataset documentation when using or citing LBA data.

LBA-ECO ND-06 Land Use Effects on Soil Nutrients: A Review of Studies 1950-2001 :

Documentation/Other Supporting Documents:

LBA-ECO ND-06 Land Use Effects on Soil Nutrients: A Review of Studies 1950-2001 :

Citation Information - Other Details:

McGrath, D., C.K. Smith, H.L. Gholz, and F.A. Oliveira. 2012. LBA-ECO ND-06 Land Use Effects on Soil Nutrients: A Review of Studies 1950-2001. Data set. Available on-line [] from Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A.

Keywords - Theme:

Parameter Topic Term Source Sensor


Keywords - Place (with associated coordinates):

(click to view profile)
(click to view profile)
North South East West
  AMAZON BASIN 5.00000 -18.00000 -35.00000 -80.00000

Related Publication(s):

McGrath D.A., C.K. Smith, H.L. Gholz, and F.D. Oliveira. 2001. Effects of land-use change on soil nutrient dynamics in Amazonia, Ecosystems, 4(7):625-645.

Data Characteristics (Entity and Attribute Overview):

Data Characteristics:

Data are provided in a single comma-delimited ASCII file:


File Contents and Organization:

Data Description: Comparison of results of over 100 studies between 1950-2001 in Amazonia to look at how land use affects soil nutrients

Filename: ND06_soil_properties_literature_survey.csv (Appendix from related publication)

LBA Dataset ID: ND06_LandUse_Studies

Column number Column heading Variable description

1 Region Regional abbreviations as follows: Amazonas, Brazil; Caqueta, Colombia;

Anangu, Ecuador, Mabura Hill, Guyana; Rondonia, Brazil;

San Carlos de Rio Negro, Venezuala; Yurimaguas, Peru

2 N_sites Number (n) of sites per study averaged

3 Land_use Land use: primary forest (p. for), secondary forest (s. for), pasture (pas),

shifting cultivation (cul), tree plantation or agroforest (pln)

4 Age_class Age class of land use: <= (less than or equal to) 5 years,

<=10 years, <=20 years, <=30 years, or unknown (primary forest age not known)

5 Soil_order Soil orders: Ult (US-Ultisol; FAO-Acrisols; Brazil-red-yellow Podzolics) and

Ox (US-Oxisol; FAO-Ferrasols; Brazil-yellow and red-yellow Latisols)

6 Depth Soil depth in centimeters

7 pH_H2O pH

8 Bd Soil bulk density expressed as g/cm3.

9 C_total Total carbon assayed using

(a) gas chromatography after dry combustion in a C and N analyzer or

(b) Walkley-Black method (low Ca soils only; Nelson and Sommers 1982) expressed as g/kg.

Soil contents of C in top 10 cm are the product of bulk density (Bd)

and C_total for each observation.

10 N_total Total nitrogen assayed using

(a) gas chromatography after dry combustion in a C and N analyzer or

(b) a Kjeldahl procedure (Bremmer and Mulvaney 1982).

Soil contents of N in top 10 cm are the product of bulk density (Bd)

11 P_total Total phosphorus measured

(a) colorimetrically or

(b) using inductively coupled argon plasma (ICAP) spectroscopy

after acid digestion (Olsen and Sommers 1982)

12 P_ext Extractable phosphorus (ext-Pi) measured colorimetrically or using ICAP after

(a) Mehlich double-acid,

(b) Bray, or

(c) resin extraction (Olsen and Sommers 1982)

13 Ex_Ca Exchangeable Ca assayed using ICAP or atomic absorption spectroscopy (AA)

following extraction in 1.0 M NH4OAc (pH 7) or a Mehlich I or

III double-acid solution (Thomas 1982)

14 ECEC Effective cation exchange capacity - sum of base cations

(extracted and assayed as described for Ex_Ca) -

exchangeable A1 (extracted in 1M KCl and assayed using ICAP or AA)

15 Clay Percent clay

16 Ref_num References of studies cited denoted by numbers below.

See companion file References.csv for complete citation.

Note: missing values are represented as -9999

Example data records:

Region,N_sites,Land_use,Age_class,Soil_order,Depth,pH_H2O,Bd,C_total,N_total,P_total,P_ext,Ex_Ca,ECEC,Clay, Ref_num,

\'Acre, Brazil\',8,p. for,,Ult,20,4.3,-9999,15.3,1.6,360,1.5,0.5,3.1,41,1,

\'Acre, Brazil\',8,pln,10,Ult,20,4.9,1.02,16.2,1.7,410,1.1,2,4.4,46,\'1,2\',

\'Acre, Brazil\',5,cul,5,Ult,20,5.9,1.1,10.1,0.9,-9999,8.1,1.8,3.38,-9999,3,

\'Acre, Brazil\',5,p. for,,Ult,20,4.7,1.1,8.1,0.8,-9999,2.8,0.81,2.22,-9999,3,

\'Acre, Brazil\',5,pas,20,Ult,20,5.4,1.3,10.3,1,-9999,4.6,3.07,4.95,-9999,3,

\'Amazonas, Brazil\',5,p. for,,Ult,10,4.1,-9999,34.6,1.9,-9999,2.3,0.1,3.3,51,4,

\'Amazonas, Brazil\',1,p. for,,Ox,5,3.6,-9999,61.7,3.8,-9999,-9999,-9999,-9999,70,5,

\'Amazonas, Brazil\',1,pas,5,Ox,5,4.7,-9999,94.1,4.1,-9999,-9999,-9999,-9999,-9999,5,

\'Amazonas, Brazil\',1,pas,10,Ox,5,4.5,-9999,76.4,4.8,-9999,-9999,-9999,-9999,-9999,5,

\'Caqueta, Columbia\',4,p. for,,Ult,20,4.1,1.02,12.2,1.1,200,2.5,0.2,4.05,19,\'6,7\',

Data Application and Derivation:

Historic soil properties data can be used to validate models and as a baseline of comparison for more recently collected data.

Quality Assessment (Data Quality Attribute Accuracy Report):

Quality Assessment:

Not applicable.

Process Description:

Data Acquisition Materials and Methods:

To compile our database, we reviewed over 100 studies of soil and plant nutrient dynamics in native

forests and forest-derived land uses conducted in the Amazon Basin over the past 4 decades. The final

data set used in our analyses was comprised of 39 studies representing five major land uses (primary

forest, secondary forest, pasture, annual crops, and tree plantations) across Amazonia.

To facilitate comparisons across studies, we developed specific criteria for including a study in

our analysis. First, to minimize variation due to inherent differences among soil orders, only data

from sites with soils identified as Ultisols or Oxisols were used. Together, Ultisols and Oxisols represent

60% to 75% of the region\'s soils (Sanchez and others 1982; Moraes and others 1995; Cerri and

others 2000). Excluded from our analysis were Amazonian forest and agricultural sites on sandy Spodosols

and more eutrophic Alfisols. Second, the depth of soil sampling in each study was placed into

one of three categories (0-5 cm, 0-10 cm, and 0-20 cm); studies in which sampling occurred

deeper in the soil profile were not included because the sample size was so small. Third, methods of soil

analysis in each study were carefully examined, and only data derived using the same, or very similar,

laboratory procedures were included (the analytical procedures used are footnoted in the Appendix of McGrath, et al. 2001).

Specific soil properties examined include concentrations of total C, N, P, extractable Pi, and exchangeable Ca,

ECEC, C:N ratios, and topsoil contents of C and N (0-10-cm depth), as well as pH and bulk density (Bd).

Extractable Pi refers to inorganic phosphate extracted using either a Bray, Mehlich (I or III), or resin extraction,

which, to date, are the most common procedures reported in Amazonian studies (Appendix). These procedures all extract

relatively similar quantities of Pi, which are presumably related to the most immediately plant available soil pool

(McGrath et al. 2001). Contents of total C and N in the top 10 cm of soil were estimated as the product of bulk density

and elemental concentrations for each observation that included these parameters (Appendix). This depth was selected

for estimating C and N contents because it was used in the majority of studies we reviewed.

The age of forest-derived land-use sites was also classified (5 years or less, 6-10 years, 10-20 years,

and more than 20 years). We assumed that primary or old-growth forests were over 100 years old, since

the age of these systems is generally not reported. We defined secondary forests as successional regrowth

of native vegetation following abandonment from annual cropping, cattle ranching, or logging,

and we assumed that the age reported for a secondary forest indicated the time since abandonment

of agricultural activities. In our data set, all but one secondary forest originated from abandoned

annual crop fields, often referred to as fallows.

Plantations refers to perennial crop-based agroforests, as well as stands of native or exotic

timber species. When possible, we calculated means on a per study basis for each land use within the

same soil order and, age and depth class to prevent a single study with multiple sites from disproportionately

influencing our analysis.

To test our five hypotheses, this final data set was analyzed in single- and two-stage ANOVA models

with variable classes of (a) land use, (b) soil order, (c) age of land use, and (d) sampling depth, and

their interactions. After we determined that age of land use and sampling depth had the least effect on

soil properties, these variable classes were dropped from our final analysis, which used a two-stage

sequential ANOVA model with factors of land use, soil order, and their interaction to calculate the

probability (P) values presented in Tables 1 and 2.

Our analysis assumes that studies of all forest-derived land uses were conducted on sites established

after clearing primary or old-growth forest for the first time, thus enabling us to make conclusions

about the effect of land-use change on soil fertility and nutrient pools. After examining significant land

use by soil order interactions, we used a Tukey\'s studentized range test to determine which of the

five land uses differed with respect to soil characteristics, as recommended by Zar (1999). This more

conservative multiple-comparison procedure was chosen because it controls type I error rates on an

experimentwise basis and accounts for unequal sample sizes (Ott 1988). Specifically, we used this

test to determine if soil properties differed among (a) primary forest vs other land uses, (b) pasture vs

forest, and (c) secondary forest vs other land uses.

To test the hypothesis that higher efficiencies of nutrient use occur where soil nutrient pools are

smaller, we regressed an index of nutrient-use efficiency (NUE) (inverse of litterfall N, P, or Ca content)

as a function of soil concentrations of total N, extractable Pi, and exchangeable Ca, when paired

data were available for any of the forest and nonforest land uses. This analysis was also performed

on log-transformed data. All analyses were performed using SAS (SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC,



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