Soils in warmer and less developed countries have less micronutrients globally

Eduardo Moreno-Jiménez*, Fernando T. Maestre, Maren Flagmeier, Emilio Guirado, Miguel Berdugo, Felipe Bastida, Marina Dacal, Paloma Díaz-Martínez, Raúl Ochoa-Hueso, César Plaza, Matthias C. Rillig, Thomas W. Crowther, Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Soil micronutrients are capital for the delivery of ecosystem functioning and food provision worldwide. Yet, despite their importance, the global biogeography and ecological drivers of soil micronutrients remain virtually unknown, limiting our capacity to anticipate abrupt unexpected changes in soil micronutrients in the face of climate change. Here, we analyzed >1300 topsoil samples to examine the global distribution of six metallic micronutrients (Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn, Co and Ni) across all continents, climates and vegetation types. We found that warmer arid and tropical ecosystems, present in the least developed countries, sustain the lowest contents of multiple soil micronutrients. We further provide evidence that temperature increases may potentially result in abrupt and simultaneous reductions in the content of multiple soil micronutrients when a temperature threshold of 12–14°C is crossed, which may be occurring on 3% of the planet over the next century. Altogether, our findings provide fundamental understanding of the global distribution of soil micronutrients, with direct implications for the maintenance of ecosystem functioning, rangeland management and food production in the warmest and poorest regions of the planet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522-532
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • climate change
  • environmental drivers
  • global biogeography
  • metals
  • micronutrients
  • soil ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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