Hydrological Controls on Nutrient Exportation from Old-Growth Evergreen Rainforests and Eucalyptus nitens Plantation in Headwater Catchments at Southern Chile

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DOI: 10.4236/ojmh.2015.52003    3,581 Downloads   4,059 Views   Citations


Soil cover disturbances have a direct effect on biogeochemistry, potentially enhancing nutrient loss, land degradation and associated changes in ecosystem services and livelihood support. The objective of this study was to assess how canopy affected throughfall chemistry and how hydrology affected stream nutrient load responses in two watersheds dominated by native old-growth evergreen rainforest (NF) and exotic plantation of Eucalyptus nitens (EP), located at the Coastal mountain range of southern Chile (40°;S). We measured nitrogen (NO3-N, NH4-N, Organic-N, Total-N) and total phosphorus (Total-P) at catchment discharge, and δ18O in throughfall precipitation and stream discharge in both catchments, in order to separate throughfall (or new water) contributions during storm events. It was hypothesized that all nutrients showed an increase in concentration as discharge increased (or enhanced hydrological access), in EP; but not in NF. Our results indicated that Organic-N, Total-N and Total-P concentrations were positively related to discharge. However, NO3--N showed a negative correlation with catchment discharge. Organic-N and Total-P showed a flush during storm events; the opposite was observed for NO3--N. However, this behavior suggested that NO3--N was being retained by charged particles or soil micro biota, whether Organic-N was flushed as it was more concentrated in big pore water that was not tightly attached, compared with NO3--N.

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Oyarzun, C. , Hervé-Fernández, P. , Huygens, D. , Boeckx, P. and Verhoest, N. (2015) Hydrological Controls on Nutrient Exportation from Old-Growth Evergreen Rainforests and Eucalyptus nitens Plantation in Headwater Catchments at Southern Chile. Open Journal of Modern Hydrology, 5, 19-31. doi: 10.4236/ojmh.2015.52003.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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