The functioning and the resilience of the Amazon forest in the light of global climate change is of great uncertainty, among other factors due to the unclear role of phosphorus (P) feedbacks on the system. The low availability of P in the Amazon may limit the forests ability to act as a carbon (C) sink due to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), i.e. the CO2 fertilization effect. This international IGSSE project proposes to advance our current understanding of P feedbacks, and approaches the question by bridging the gap between the fundamental science of ecosystem monitoring and the engineering side of ecosystem modelling.
The team consists of experts in both fields and the doctoral researchers will develop new modules for existing ecosystem models that incorporate P dynamics. They will employ new laboratory analysis to improve observation-based estimates of P stocks in the Amazon, and generate a database of P-related plant traits that will serve the development of two contrasting ecosystem models that the IGSSE team is working with. Integrating the two fields, the doctoral researchers will use their developed database to improve the P cycle representation in both models, together with the associated doctoral researchers. The ecosystem models are then employed to assess the P control on the CO2 fertilization effect at larger scale. Overall, this work will advance our understanding of P control on the Amazon, which is essential in predicting its response to global change. Upon completion, the doctoral researchers will achieve expertise in two contrasting fields and be part of a highly diverse research team.