Nutrient Cycling in Desert Ecosystems

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Arid Land Ecosystems: Volume 2, Structure, Functioning and Management


D. W. Goodall, R. A. Perry, K. M. W. Howes

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Nutrient cycling in arid ecosystems is described in relation to the influence of precipitation, structural and temporal variability (including nutrient accumulation, intra-seasonal variation, distribution of minerals between ecosystem components and a comparison of turnover rates with other ecosystems) and particular problems of specific minerals (N and P in deficit and Na, Cl, B and Se in excess). Water remains the dominant factor in these arid ecosystems; however, plants cannot fully capitalize on soil moisture unless nutrients are available and vice versa. Efficiency of water utilization declines under nutrient stress.