Wading bird guano enrichment of soil nutrients in tree islands of the Florida Everglades

Sci Total Environ. 2015 Nov 1;532:40-7. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.05.097. Epub 2015 Jun 6.


Differential distribution of nutrients within an ecosystem can offer insight of ecological and physical processes that are otherwise unclear. This study was conducted to determine if enrichment of phosphorus (P) in tree island soils of the Florida Everglades can be explained by bird guano deposition. Concentrations of total carbon, nitrogen (N), and P, and N stable isotope ratio (δ(15)N) were determined on soil samples from 46 tree islands. Total elemental concentrations and δ(15)N were determined on wading bird guano. Sequential chemical extraction of P pools was also performed on guano. Guano contained between 53.1 and 123.7 g-N kg(-1) and 20.7 and 56.7 g-P kg(-1). Most of the P present in guano was extractable by HCl, which ranged from 82 to 97% of the total P. Total P of tree islands classified as having low or high P soils averaged 0.71 and 40.6 g kg(-1), respectively. Tree island soil with high total P concentration was found to have a similar δ(15)N signature and total P concentration as bird guano. Phosphorus concentrations and δ(15)N were positively correlated in tree island soils (r = 0.83, p< 0.0001). Potential input of guano with elevated concentrations of N and P, and (15)N enriched N, relative to other sources suggests that guano deposition in tree island soils is a mechanism contributing to this pattern.

Keywords: Bird guano; Nutrient transport; Phosphorus fractionation; Tree island soil; δ(15)N.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Feces*
  • Florida
  • Islands
  • Nitrogen / analysis*
  • Phosphorus / analysis*
  • Soil
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Soil
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen