Skip to Main Content
Coupled cycling of dissolved organic nitrogen and carbon in a forest streamAuthor(s): E.N. Jack Brookshire; H. Maurice Valett; Steven A. Thomas; Jackson R. Webster
Source: Ecology, Vol. 86(9): 2487-2496
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
PDF: View PDF (1.06 MB)
DescriptionDissolved organic nitrogen (DON) is an abundant but poorly understood pool of N in many ecosystems. We assessed DON cycling in a N-limited headwater forest stream via whole-ecosystem additions of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and labile dissolved organic matter (DOM), hydrologic transport and biogeochemical modeling, and laboratory experiments with native sediments. We sampled surface and subsurface waters to understand how interaction among hydrologic exchange, DIN, DON, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) influence stream N losses at summer baseflow. Added DON was taken up rapidly from the water column at rates exceeding DOC and DIN. A significant fraction of this DON was mineralized and nitrified. Combined DON and NO,-N uptake lengths resulted in spiraling lengths of -210 m, suggesting the potential for multiple transformations of labile N loads within catchment boundaries. Simultaneous addition of DIN increased DOM uptake, but more so for C, resulting in an upward shift in the C:N ratio of uptake. Sediment incubations also showed a strong biotic influence on DOC and DON dynamics. Despite efficient uptake of added DOM, background DON and high molecular mass DOC concentrations increased downstream, resulting in higher DOM loads than could be accounted for by groundwater discharge and suggesting net release of less bioavailable forms from the channel/hyporheic zone. At the same time, subsurface DOM was characterized by very low C:N ratios and a disproportionately large DON pool despite rapid hydrologic mixing with dilute and high C:N ratio surface waters. Analysis of expected DON loads from conservative hyporheic fluxes indicated that watershed losses of DON would have been seven times greater in the absence of apparent benthic demand, suggesting tight internal cycling of subsurface DON. Our study further demonstrates the potential for significant transformation of N in headwater streams before export to downstream ecosystems.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationBrookshire, E.N. Jack; Valett, H. Maurice; Thomas, Steven A.; Webster, Jackson R. 2005. Coupled cycling of dissolved organic nitrogen and carbon in a forest stream. Ecology, Vol. 86(9): 2487-2496
Keywordscycling, dissolved organic carbon, dissolved organic nitrogen, forest stream, headwater catchment, hydrologic losses, nutrient uptake, spiraling
- The role of hillslope hydrology in controlling nutrient loss
- Uptake of allochthonous dissolved organic matter from soil and salmon in coastal temperate rainforest streams
- Retenation of soluble organic nutrients by a forested ecosystem
XML: View XML