Sampling strategies for tropical forest nutrient cycling studies: a case study in São Paulo, Brazil
Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo
The precise sampling of soil, biological or micro climatic attributes in tropical forests, which are characterized by a high diversity of species and complex spatial variability, is a difficult task. We found few basic studies to guide sampling procedures. The objective of this study was to define a sampling strategy and data analysis for some parameters frequently used in nutrient cycling studies, i. e., litter amount, total nutrient amounts in litter and its composition (Ca, Mg, Κ, Ν and P),
... nd soil attributes at three depths (organic matter, Ρ content, cation exchange capacity and base saturation). A natural remnant forest in the West of São Paulo State (Brazil) was selected as study area and samples were collected in July, 1989. The total amount of litter and its total nutrient amounts had a high spatial independent variance. Conversely, the variance of litter composition was lower and the spatial dependency was peculiar to each nutrient. The sampling strategy for the estimation of litter amounts and the amount of nutrient in litter should be different than the sampling strategy for nutrient composition. For the estimation of litter amounts and the amount of nutrients in litter (related to quantity) a large number of randomly distributed determinations are needed. Otherwise, for the estimation of litter nutrient composition (related to quality) a smaller amount of spatially located samples should be analyzed. The determination of sampling for soil attributes differed according to the depth. Overall, surface samples (0-5 cm) showed high short distance spatial dependent variance, whereas, subsurface samples exhibited spatial dependency in longer distances. Short transects with sampling interval of 5-10 m are recommended for surface sampling. Subsurface samples must also be spatially located, but with transects or grids with longer distances between sampling points over the entire area. Composite soil samples would not provide a complete understanding of the relation between soil properties and surface dynamic processes or landscape aspects. Precise distribution of Ρ was difficult to estimate.