Chemistry of precipitation and streamwater and resulting input-output budgets for nutrient ions were determined concurrently for three years on three upland, forested watersheds located within an 80 km radius in central New England. Chemistry of precipitation and inputs of nutrients via wet deposition were similar among the three watersheds and were generally typical of central New England. In contrast, chemistry and nutrient outputs in streamwater varied dramatically between watersheds, with chemistries ranging from acidic to alkaline. Comparisons with data reported for 159 other upland, forested watersheds in central New England show that our study watersheds span the regional range likely to be encountered in stream chemistry. The regional variability stems in part from past natural disturbances such as wildfire, and variations in source of soil parent material. An approach is presented for predicting the important influence of glacial till on stream chemistry, including acid-base relationships, aluminum content, and nutrient outputs. Knowledge of streamwater chemistry and controlling factors can serve as an index of how terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems will respond to forest management activities and atmospheric deposition.
Additional publication details
Streamwater chemistry and nutrient budgets for forested watersheds in New England: Variability and management implications