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Does timber harvest influence the dynamics of marine-derived nutrients in Southeast Alaska streams?

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Streams often rely on nutrient subsidies, and variation in nutrient delivery may alter the ecosystem response. Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) provide marine-derived nutrients to their natal streams but also cause benthic disturbance, with the net effect determined by watershed and stream characteristics. To understand the factors contributing to variation in salmon-derived nutrients (SDN), we studied nutrient concentration and export in seven streams with varying physical characteristics due to timber harvest (e.g., channel complexity) over three years in Southeast Alaska, USA. Salmon increased concentrations and export of dissolved and particulate nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon, but the magnitude of increase varied up to 41-fold among streams. The density of live salmon best predicted the increase in nutrient concentration and export, whereas the density of carcasses had a negligible effect. Nutrient export was predicted by transient storage before and after the salmon run. Streams in harvested watersheds with simplified channels had greater nutrient export than those in pristine watersheds with complex channels. However, enrichment from salmon overrode the effect of timber harvest on export during the run. Our study demonstrates that enrichment via SDN is short-lived and related to run size, whereas timber harvest and carcasses exert little influence on SDN dynamics.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 27, 2011

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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