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Water and Nutrient Movement in Small, Forested Watersheds in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas

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Four small (< 13.5 ha), upland, hardwood watersheds were selected for a study of the changes in water dynamics and associated chemical changes as water moves through various components of the ecosystem. These watersheds were also used to determine what changes in water movement and chemistry are related to silvicultural treatments of conversion to pine, a shelterwood cut or a clearcut applied 6 yr earlier. A fourth watershed served as a control. It was estimated that 29% of the rainfall left the watersheds. The ratio of Na+ and Cl- indicated a marine source of these elements. Enrichment from terrestrial sources was indicated for Mg+2, Ca+2, K+, and SO4 2-.

The major changes in water movement and in water chemistry occurred between the surface of the litter layer and the bottom of the A horizon where 55% of the water and most of the nutrients that entered the watersheds were absorbed by a root network that develops at the litter A horizon interface. The degree of absorption varied from 30% for Na+ to 86% for H+. In general, nutrients that passed the A horizon also passed the E horizon and were transported out of the watersheds. SO4 2- was the major nutrient deposited (21.5 kg ha-1) and accumulated (15.6 kg ha-1) in the watershed followed by NO3 - (9.8 and 8.2 kg ha-1) and Ca+2 (9.6 and 5.6 kg ha-1). Cl- behaved differently than other nutrients because it was stored in the canopy and surface soil layers but lost from deeper zones in the watershed. Mg+2 also differed in that it was the only nutrient to have a net loss from the watersheds.

Magnesium, K+, H+, and NO3 - had differences related to silvicultural treatments. Magnesium was leached from the canopy in the control and shelterwood. K+ was enriched in the throughfall of the control and possibly shelterwood. Hydrogen was absorbed in the control canopy and leached from the clearcut canopy. FOR. SCI. 46(3):335–343.

Keywords: Nutrient cycles; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; silviculture treatments; soil water movement; watershed

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 72701, Phone: (501) 575-2783; Fax: (501) 575-8619 2: Professor and Director Arkansas Water Resources Center Department of Geology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 72701, Phone: (501) 575-4403 3: Professor, Retired School of Forest Resources, University of Arkansas at Monticello, Monticello, AR, 71656, Phone: (501) 587-8438

Publication date: 2000-08-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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