Spatial patterns of soil nitrification and nitrate export from forested headwaters in the northeastern United States

Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

Nitrogen export from small forested watersheds is known to be affected by N deposition but with high regional variability. We studied 10 headwater catchments in the northeastern United States across a gradient of N deposition (5.4 - 9.4 kg ha -1 yr -1) to determine if soil nitrification rates could explain differences in stream water NO 3 - export. Average annual export of two years (October 2002 through September 2004) varied from 0.1 kg NO 3 --N ha -1 yr -1 at Cone Pond watershed in New Hampshire to 5.1 kg ha -1 yr -1 at Buck Creek South in the western Adirondack Mountains of New York. Potential net nitrification rates and relative nitrification (fraction of inorganic N as NO 3 -) were measured in Oa or A soil horizons at 21-130 sampling points throughout each watershed. Stream NO 3 - export was positively related to nitrification rates (r 2 = 0.34, p = 0.04) and the relative nitrification (r 2 = 0.37, p = 0.04). These relationships were much improved by restricting consideration to the 6 watersheds with a higher number of rate measurements (59-130) taken in transects parallel to the streams (r 2 of 0.84 and 0.70 for the nitrification rate and relative nitrification, respectively). Potential nitrification rates were also a better predictor of NO 3 - export when data were limited to either the 6 sampling points closest to the watershed outlet (r 2 = 0.75) or sampling points <250 m from the watershed outlet (r 2 = 0.68). The basal area of conifer species at the sampling plots was negatively related to NO 3 - export. These spatial relationships found here suggest a strong influence of near-stream and near-watershed-outlet soils on measured stream NO 3 - export. Copyright 2012 by the American Geophysical Union.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatial patterns of soil nitrification and nitrate export from forested headwaters in the northeastern United States
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
DOI 10.1029/2011JG001740
Volume 117
Issue 1
Year Published 2012
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences