Leaching of nutrient cations from the forest floor: Effects of nitrogen saturation in two long-term manipulations

William S. Currie, John D. Aber, Charles T. Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nitrogen saturation results in greater mobility of nitrate, which in turn is often correlated with concentrations of nutrient cations in soil solution and streamwater. At the Harvard Forest, U.S.A., under long-term NH4NO3 inputs, a Pinus resinosa Ait, forest has exhibited signs of N saturation more rapidly than a mixed-Quercus forest. We test the hypothesis that increased nitrate leaching causes increased concentrations of nutrient cations in soil solution. Over 2 years (years 6 and 7 of treatment) we measured SO42-, NO3-, Cl-, Ca2+, K+, Mg2+, Na+, H+, and NH4+ in throughfall solution and in forest-floor (Oa) leachate. Concentrations of NO3- in forest-floor leachate increased with rates of N amendment and correlated positively with cation concentrations, with stronger overall correlations in the pine forest: r2 values were 0.51 (pine forest) and 0.39 (oak forest) for Ca2+, 0.45 (pine) and 0.16 (oak) for K+, and 0.62 (pine) and 0.50 (oak) for Mg2+. In summer and fall, the oak forest showed some negative relationships between nutrient cation leaching and rate of N amendment. These contrasts showed retention of cations and N to occur together in an N-limited system, whereas increased nitrate mobility occurred with increased cation losses in an N-saturated system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-620
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Forestry
  • Ecology

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