Coral cay soil chemical and physical properties were described from Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve, Australia. Soil A horizons under littoral herblands and Argusia argentea shrubs were shallow and coarse textured. Interior soil A horizons, particularly under Pisonia grandis closed forest, were deeper (1.2 m) with finer textures. Average surface soil pH values ranged from pH 8.76 at the seashores to pH 8.09 in the interior. Average surface soil organic carbon ranged from 2.4% to 4.8%; and phosphorus (Colwell-P) concentrations ranged from 467 mg/kg to 882 mg/kg within the interior areas. Chemical fertility of all A horizons increased from the seashore to the island interior. The higher fertility levels are attributed to high organic matter contributed by vegetation, combined with activities of seabirds, particularly the burrowing wedgetailed shearwater, Puffinis pacificus. Leaching of nutrients from surface soils is reflected in the rapid decline in soil fertility with depth. Deeper interior A horizons are interrupted by formation of an abrupt white C profile. It is speculated that the formation of this layer is the product of periodic “washing” by a seasonally high fresh/brackish water table.
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Vol. 64 • No. 2