Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for life on Earth and is tightly cycled within the biosphere. Throughout geological history, P availability has regulated biological productivity with impacts on the global carbon cycle. Today, human activities are significantly changing the natural cycling of P. Phosphate mining has depleted geological P reserves, while increased inputs of P to terrestrial ecosystems have enhanced fluxes of P to lakes and the oceans.
Direct anthropogenic perturbations of the P cycle, coupled with other human-induced stresses, have impacted numerous environments. Forest ecosystems may be losing their ability to recycle P efficiently, due to excessive N input, extensive biomass removal, and climatic stress. Soils, which serve as the biogeochemical fulcrum of the terrestrial P cycle, have been greatly altered by fertilizer use in recent decades. Changes in the P cycle on land impact on the magnitude and timing of P fluxes into aquatic ecosystems, influencing their trophic state. Burial in sediments returns P to the geological sink, eventually forming economically viable P deposits. Throughout the P cycle, redox conditions play a key role in transformations and mobility of P.
This interdisciplinary session invites contributions to the study of P from across the geosciences, and aims to foster links between researchers working on different aspects of the P cycle. We target a balanced session giving equal weight across the continuum of environments in the P cycle, from forests, soils and groundwater, through lakes, rivers and estuaries, to oceans, marine sediments and geological P deposits. We welcome studies of both past and present P cycling, with a focus on novel techniques and approaches.
Keynote: Ben Turner, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama: "Soil phosphorus and the ecology of tropical forests"