Export of Carbon, Nitrogen, and Major Ions from Three Tropical Montane Watersheds

Export of Carbon, Nitrogen, and Major Ions from Three Tropical Montane Watersheds
William H. McDowell and Clyde E. Asbury
Limnology and Oceanography
Vol. 39, No. 1 (Jan., 1994), pp. 111-125

Abstract: 
Annual exports of suspended sediment, dissolved and particulate C and N, dissolved N and P, and major cations and anions were measured in three montane tropical rain forest watersheds in Puerto Rico during 1983-1986. Organic C was primarily exported in the form of DOC, and DOC export (33-94 kg ha-1 yr-1) was similar to values in larger tropical watersheds with similar runoff. Particulate and dissolved organic N accounted for 60-70% of the 4-9 kg ha-1 yr-1 of total N exported. Export of base cations and rates of weathering varied with bedrock geology in the three watersheds. Concentrations of suspended sediment, particulate C and N, and DOC increased as a function of discharge in all three streams. NH4+, NO3-, SO42-, and K+ concentrations showed little or no response to variations in discharge; Na-, Ca2+, Mg2+, Cl-, HCO3-, and SiO2 all decreased at high flows. After removing the effects of discharge, residual NO, concentrations in each stream were inversely related to estimated rates of leaf fall. On a watershed basis, export and accumulation of N in biomass were greater than precipitation inputs, suggesting that unmeasured inputs (8-16 kg ha-1 yr-1) were large.