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Soil altitudinal sequence on base-poor parent material in a montane cloud forest in Sierra Juarez, Southern Mexico



Soil altitudinal sequence on base-poor parent material in a montane cloud forest in Sierra Juarez, Southern Mexico



Geoderma 144(3-4): 593-612



The soils of montane cloud forests (MCF) are still insufficiently studied. A number of researchers report Podzols to be the main soil group for MCF ecosystems; however, a great deal of contradictory data exists. We studied an altitudinal sequence of soils formed on ferrous chlorite shale under natural MCF vegetation in Sierra Juarez, Southern Mexico, from 1500 to 2500 in asl. The soils of the upper part of the toposequence were Folic Stagnic Podzols, with inclusions of Folic Stagnosols in local depressions, while the soils of the lower part of the toposequence were Folic Cambisols (Humic, Hyperdystric). All the soils in the toposequence were extremely acid, and had thick organic surface horizon. Mineral horizons of all soils were poor both in exchangeable and total reserves of bases; the bases were concentrated mainly in organic topsoil. With decreasing altitude both the thickness of albic horizons, the depth of the maximum acid oxalate-ex tractable Fe and Al concentrations, and the difference in clay content between the eluvial and illuvial horizons decreased. In the upper part of the toposequence the composition of soil clays was similar to that of parent material (chlorite and mica), with some mixed-layered 2:1 minerals. However, gibbsite and kaolinite were also present in the soils of the other site within the same upper MCF belt. The phenomenon was ascribed to parent material heterogenity. In the medium and lower parts of the toposequence gibbsite and kaolinite were the dominant minerals. We consider that the main pedogenic, processes in the study area are raw humus accumulation, weathering in situ, podzolization, and iron reduction due to water stagnation in mineral topsoil. The intensity of weathering decreases, while the extent of water stagnation increases with altitude. To a great extent the genesis and altitudinal distribution of the soils in the MCF depends on parent material.

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