Throughfall and stemflow chemistry under deciduous and coniferous forest canopies in south-central Ontario

Neary, A.J.; Gizyn, W.I.

Canadian Journal of Forest Research 24(6): 1089-1100


ISSN/ISBN: 0045-5067
DOI: 10.1139/x94-145
Accession: 002532088

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By measuring incident precipitation, throughfall, and stemflow chemistry, the roles of coniferous- and deciduous-dominated forest canopies as a source of and sink for ions in precipitation were examined. A regression technique for distinguishing between external (dry deposition) and internal (canopy leaching) sources of ions in the throughfall flux was evaluated. The effect of seasonal changes in the forest canopy on throughfall and stemflow chemistry was also examined. Throughfall comprised 74 and 84%, respectively, of the hydrologic flux at the coniferous and deciduous sites. Sulphate fluxes were highest at the coniferous site during both growing and dormant seasons, suggesting either a higher scavenging efficiency of the needles for atmospheric SO-4-2-, or higher SO-4-2- leaching from the foliage. The deciduous site neutralized acidic inputs, as demonstrated by its net negative H+ flux year round. The buffering capacity of the coniferous forest was exceeded by the higher amount of acid interception by the canopy. Nitrate behaved conservatively and base ions were exported from the canopy, Stemflow contributions of ions, although low, were generally higher than the contribution of stemflow to the hydrologic flux (2-3%). Independent dry deposition measurements for the growing season, when compared with net SO-4-2- flux, overestimated dry deposition collected by the deciduous canopy, but were comparable to the flux at the coniferous site. These data suggest that dry SO-2-SO-4-2- deposition may be responsible for all SO-4-2- enrichment seen in throughfall at these sites. A regression technique for separating internal and external ion sources in throughfall yielded inconsistent results, and attributed virtually all ion enrichment to internal sources. Problems with false assumptions and spurious correlations are discussed. We conclude that this method is not satisfactory for separating ion sources. Seasonal patterns in throughfall chemistry are present. During the growing seasons bases exchange for H+ and are exported similarly with SO-4-2-. Hydrogen retention mirrors SO-4-2- export. Base cations (particularly K+) are leached from the canopy primarily during senescence, but from the stem of the tree primarily during the dormant period. This was most evident at the deciduous site. Chloride behaved in a similar manner, while NH-4+ and H+ were retained during the senescent period.