Aquatic Effects of Riparian Zone Disturbances - 140-104

Description: Riparian areas are three-dimensional ecotones of interaction between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that extend down into the groundwater, above into the canopy, outward across the floddplain, up near-slope areas that drain to the water, laterally into the terrestrial ecosystem, and along the water course at variable widths. Riparian zones within forest ecosystems are generally characterized by differences in vegetation, soils, and hydrology compared with upslope forests. As a result, processes within riparian zones of undisturbed forests strongly influence the movement of water and nutrients from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems. Within the aquatic system, N, P, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) are primary influences on productivity, nutrient cycling, and light dynamics.

In this study we examined N and C concentrations of riparian zone soil water at 30 cm depth and nearshore lake water in an undisturbed boreal forest landscape. The primary objective was to provide evidence to assist in determining if current guidelines for the establishment of buffer zones in the boreal forest based on catchment slope are appropriate in the context of terrestrial nutirent inputs. The premise underlying our study was that, within the uncut boreal forest, shallow and steep slopes responded differently to upslope nutrient fluxes, resulting in variable riparian soil water chemistry.


The Project Team: P. Hazlett and K Broad, CFS, A. Gordon and P. Sibley, University of Guelph, J. Buttle, Trent University, D. Larmer, Tembec.



Hazlett, P., Broad, K., Gordon, A., Sibley, P., Buttle, J. and Larmer, D. 2008. The importance of catchment slope to soil water N and C concentrations in riparian zones: implications for riparian buffer width. Can.J.For.Res. 38: 16-30.


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