Samples were taken under different depth and distances from decaying logs at two stages of decay, to measure soil temperature, total and available nutrients, and root length in a tropical wet forest. Forest Service scientists found decaying wood affected physical, chemical, and biotic properties of the underlying soil. Soil temperature was less variable under the decaying logs than away from the logs. Soil under the decaying wood had fewer roots, and lower nitrate and magnesium availability than samples collected a distance of 50 cm (19.7 inches) away from the logs. Tree species and decay stage were important factors defining the effect of decaying wood on the distribution of available nutrients. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium levels were higher in the soil associated with the youngest logs, and were higher near mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) logs. Heavy metals were also higher in the soil located near the younger logs independent of the species; other metal ions such as aluminum, and iron were higher in the soil associated with tabanuco trees (Dacryodes excelsa) and the oldest logs. These results indicate decaying wood can contribute to and generate spatial heterogeneity of soil properties.