Biogeochemistry

, Volume 107, Issue 1–3, pp 135–148 | Cite as

Alder cover drives nitrogen availability in Kenai lowland headwater streams, Alaska

  • Rebecca S. Shaftel
  • Ryan S. King
  • Jeffrey A. Back
Article

Abstract

Terrestrial sources of nitrogen (N), particularly N-fixing alder, may be important for sustaining production in headwater streams that typically lack substantial subsidies of marine-derived nutrients from spawning salmon yet support upstream-dispersing juvenile salmonids. However, other physiographic characteristics, such as watershed slope and topographic wetness, also control transport of nutrients to streams and may confound apparent linkages between alder and stream N. Seasonal patterns in precipitation and temperature may interact with watershed characteristics to modulate stream N availability. We empirically modeled the effect of alder cover and other watershed physiographic variables on stream N and contrasted these relationships over the growing season among 25 first-order streams from the lower Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. For each date, percent alder cover, mean topographic wetness, and mean slope were used as watershed predictors of NOx–N concentration (nitrate + nitrite) and daily NOx–N yield using Generalized Additive Models (GAM) and compared using Akaike’s Information Criterion (AICc). Alder cover was the only probable model and explained 75–96% of the variation in NOx–N concentration and 83–89% of the variation in daily NOx–N yield. The relationship between alder and both NOx–N concentration and daily NOx–N yield changed from constant inputs in May across the range of alder cover (linear fit) to increasing inputs in July and September (non-linear fits) implying that high-alder watersheds were N-saturated. The strong linkage between alder and stream N coupled with the concurrent timing of maximum stream N from alder in the spring to salmon fry emergence indicates the potential importance of this subsidy to headwater stream ecosystems.

Keywords

Alnus Topographic wetness index Nitrogen fixation Watershed physiography 

References

  1. Aber JD, Nadelhoffer KJ, Steudler P, Mellilo JM (1989) Nitrogen saturation in northern forest ecosystems. Bioscience 39:378–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aber J, McDowell W, Nadelhoffer K, Magill A, Berntson G, Kamakea M, McNulty S, Currie W, Rustad L, Fernandez I (1998) Nitrogen saturation in temperate forest ecosystems. Bioscience 48:921–934CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. American Public Health Association (2005) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. American Public Health Association, American Water Works Association, and Water Environment Federation, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson DM, Burnham KP, Thompson WL (2000) Null hypothesis testing: problems, prevalence, and an alternative. J Wildl Manag 64:912–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderson MD, Ruess RW, Uliassi DD, Mitchell JS (2004) Estimating N2 fixation in two species of Alnus in interior Alaska using acetylene reduction and 15N2 uptake. Ecoscience 11:102–112Google Scholar
  6. Bechtold JS, Edwards RT, Naiman RJ (2003) Biotic versus hydrologic control over seasonal nitrate leaching in a floodplain forest. Biogeochemistry 63:53–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bramblett RG, Bryant MD, Wright BE, White RG (2002) Seasonal use of small tributary and main-stem habitats by juvenile steelhead, coho salmon, and Dolly Varden in a southeastern Alaska drainage basin. Trans Am Fish Soc 131:498–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brenner RE, Boone RD, Ruess RW (2005) Nitrogen additions to pristine, high-latitude, forest ecosystems: consequences for soil nitrogen transformations and retention in mid and late succession. Biogeochemistry 72:257–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bryant MD, Zymonas ND, Wright BE (2004) Salmonids on the fringe: Abundance, species composition, and habitat use of salmonids in high-gradient headwater streams, southeast Alaska. Trans Am Fish Soc 133:1529–1538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cairns MA, Lajtha K (2005) Effects of succession on nitrogen export in the west-central Cascades, Oregon. Ecosystems 8:583–601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chadwick MA, Huryn AD (2003) Effect of a whole-catchment N addition on stream detritus processing. J North Am Benthol Soc 22:194–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clement JC, Holmes RM, Peterson BJ, Pinay G (2003) Isotopic investigation of denitrification in a riparian ecosystem in western France. J Appl Ecol 40:1035–1048CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Compton JE, Church MR, L arned ST, Hogsett WE (2003) Nitrogen export from forested watersheds in the Oregon Coast Range: the role of N2-fixing red alder. Ecosystems 6:773–785CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Creed IF, Band LE (1998) Export of nitrogen from catchments within a temperate forest: evidence for a unifying mechanism regulated by variable source area dynamics. Water Resour Res 34:3105–3120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dodds WK, Smith VH, Lohman K (2002) Nitrogen and phosphorus relationships to benthic algal biomass in temperate streams. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 59:865–874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dugdale RC, Dugdale VA (1961) Sources of phosphorus and nitrogen for lakes on Afognak Island. Limnol Oceanogr 6:13–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ebersole JL, Wigington PJ Jr, Baker JP, Cairns MA, Church MR, Hansen BP, Miller BA, La Vigne HR, Compton JE, Leibowitz SG (2006) Juvenile coho salmon growth and survival across stream network seasonal habitats. Trans Am Fish Soc 135:1681–1697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ferreira V, Gulis V, Graça MAS (2006) Whole-stream nitrate addition affects litter decomposition and associated fungi but not invertebrates. Oecologia 149:718–729CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Findlay S (2010) Stream microbial ecology. J North Am Benthol Soc 29:170–181Google Scholar
  20. Francoeur SN (2001) Meta-analysis of lotic nutrient amendment experiments: detecting and quantifying subtle responses. J North Am Benthol Soc 20:358–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gende SM, Edwards RT, Willson MF, Wipfli MS (2002) Pacific salmon in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Bioscience 52:917–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gesch DB (2007) The National Elevation Dataset. In: Maune D (ed) Digital elevation model technologies and applications: the DEM users manual, 2nd edn. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Bethesda, Maryland, pp 99–118Google Scholar
  23. Gesch D, Oimoen M, Greenlee S, Nelson C, Steuck M, Tyler D (2002) The national elevation dataset. Photogramm Eng Remote Sensing 68:5–11Google Scholar
  24. Golden HE, Boyer EW, Brown MG, P urucker ST, Germain RH (2009) Spatial variability of nitrate concentrations under diverse conditions in tributaries to a lake watershed. J Am Water Resour Assoc 45:945–962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goodman LF, Hungate BA (2006) Managing forests infested by spruce beetles in south-central Alaska: effects on nitrogen availability, understory biomass, and spruce regeneration. For Ecol Manage 227:267–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Graça MAS (2001) The role of invertebrates on leaf litter decomposition in streams—a review. Int Rev Hydrobiol 86:383–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gracz M, North P, Noyes K, Tande G, Van Patten D (2004) Wetlands of the Kenai Lowlands: a landscape-level wetland management tool. http://www.kenaiwetlands.net/
  28. Gulis V, Suberkropp K (2003) Leaf litter decomposition and microbial activity in nutrient-enriched and unaltered reaches of a headwater stream. Freshwat Biol 48:123–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haapala A, Muotka T, Markkola A (2001) Breakdown and macroinvertebrate and fungal colonization of alder, birch, and willow leaves in a boreal forest stream. J North Am Benthol Soc 20:395–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hanson GC, Groffman PM, Gold AJ (1994) Denitrification in riparian wetlands receiving high and low groundwater nitrate inputs. J Environ Qual 23:917–922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hladyz S, Gessner MO, Giller PS, Pozo J, Woodward G (2009) Resource quality and stoichiometric constraints on stream ecosystem functioning. Freshwat Biol 54:957–970CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hurd TM, Raynal DJ (2004) Comparison of nitrogen solute concentrations within alder (Alnus incana ssp rugosa) and non-alder dominated wetlands. Hydrol Process 18:2681–2697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Junger M, Planas D (1994) Quantitative use of stable carbon-isotope analysis to determine the trophic base of invertebrate communities in a boreal forest lotic system. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 51:52–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kane ES, Betts EF, Burgin AJ, Clilverd HM, Crenshaw CL, Fellman JB, Myers-Smith IH, O’Donnell JA, Sobota DJ, Van Verseveld WJ, Jones JB (2008) Precipitation control over inorganic nitrogen import–export budgets across watersheds: a synthesis of long-term ecological research. Ecohydrology 1:105–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. King RS, Baker ME, Whigham DF, Weller DE, Jordan TE, Kazyak PF, Hurd MK (2005) Spatial considerations for linking watershed land cover to ecological indicators in streams. Ecol Appl 15:137–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Klein E, Berg EE, Dial R (2005) Wetland drying and succession across the Kenai Peninsula Lowlands, south-central Alaska. Can J For Resour 35:1931–1941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Laughlin WM, Smith GR, Peters MA (1984) Influence of N-fertilization, P-fertilization, and K-fertilization on yield and mineral-composition of native bluejoint grass on the Lower Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Agron J 76:389–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Melillo JM, Aber JD, Muratore JF (1982) Nitrogen and lignin control of hardwood leaf litter decomposition dynamics. Ecology 63:621–626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mitchell JS, Ruess RW (2009a) N-2 fixing alder (Alnus viridis spp. fruticosa) effects on soil properties across a secondary successional chronosequence in interior Alaska. Biogeochemistry 95:215–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mitchell JS, Ruess RW (2009b) Seasonal patterns of climate controls over nitrogen fixation by Alnus viridis subsp. fruticosa in a secondary successional chronosequence in interior Alaska. Ecoscience 16:341–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Naiman RJ, Bilby RE, Schindler DE, Helfield JM (2002) Pacific salmon, nutrients, and the dynamics of freshwater and riparian ecosystems. Ecosystems 5:399–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ogawa A, Shibata H, Suzuki K, Mitchell MJ, Ikegami Y (2006) Relationship of topography to surface water chemistry with particular focus on nitrogen and organic carbon solutes within a forested watershed in Hokkaido, Japan. Hydrol Process 20:251–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Perry RW, Bradford MJ, Grout JA (2003) Effects of disturbance on contribution of energy sources to growth of juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in boreal streams. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 60:390–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ping CL, Michaelson GJ (1986) Phosphorus sorption by major agricultural soils of Alaska. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 17:299–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. R Development Core Team (2009) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R package version 2.10.1 Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  46. Reynolds KM (1990) Preliminary classification of forest vegetation of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. PNW-RP-424, 67 pGoogle Scholar
  47. Rhoades C, Oskarsson H, Binkley D, Stottlemyer B (2001) Alder (Alnus crispa) effects on soils in ecosystems of the Agashashok River valley, northwest Alaska. Ecoscience 8:89–95Google Scholar
  48. Richardson JS, Danehy RJ (2007) A synthesis of the ecology of headwater streams and their riparian zones in temperate forests. For Sci 53:131–147Google Scholar
  49. Robinson CT, Gessner MO (2000) Nutrient addition accelerates leaf breakdown in an alpine springbrook. Oecologia 122:258–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ruess RW, McFarland JM, Trummer LM, Rohrs-Richey JK (2009) Disease-mediated declines in N-fixation inputs by Alnus tenuifolia to early-successional floodplains in interior and south-central Alaska. Ecosystems 12:489–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sabater S, Butturini A, Clement JC, Burt T, Dowrick D, Hefting M, Maitre V, Pinay G, Postolache C, Rzepecki M, Sabater F (2003) Nitrogen removal by riparian buffers along a European climatic gradient: patterns and factors of variation. Ecosystems 6:20–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schaefer SC, Hollibaugh JT, Alber M (2009) Watershed nitrogen input and riverine export on the west coast of the US. Biogeochemistry 93:219–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schiff SL, Devito KJ, Elgood RJ, McCrindle PM, Spoelstra J, Dillon P (2002) Two adjacent forested catchments: dramatically different NO3-export. Water Resour Res 38:1292–1305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Snyder CD, Young JA, Villella R, Lemarie DP (2003) Influences of upland and riparian land use patterns on stream biotic integrity. Landsc Ecol 18:647–664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Soja AJ, Tchebakova NM, French NHF, Flannigan MD, Shugart HH, Stocks BJ, Sukhinin AI, Parfenova EI, Chapin FS III, Stackhouse PW Jr (2007) Climate-induced boreal forest change: predictions versus current observations. Glob Planet Change 56:274–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sorenson R, Zinko U, Seibert J (2005) On the calculation of the topographic wetness index: evaluation of different methods based on field observations. Hydrol Earth Sys Sci Discuss 2:1807–1834CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stieglitz M, Shaman J, McNamara J, Engel V, Shanley J, Kling GW (2003) An approach to understanding hydrologic connectivity on the hillslope and the implications for nutrient transport. Global Biogeochem Cycles 17:1105–1120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stottlemyer R, Toczydlowski D (1999) Seasonal relationships between precipitation, forest floor, and streamwater nitrogen, Isle Royale, Michigan. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63:389–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Suberkropp K, Chauvet E (1995) Regulation of leaf breakdown by fungi in streams—influences of water chemistry. Ecology 76:1433–1445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tank JL, Dodds WK (2003) Nutrient limitation of epilithic and epixylic biofilms in ten North American streams. Freshwat Biol 48:1031–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Uliassi DD, Ruess RW (2002) Limitations to symbiotic nitrogen fixation in primary succession on the Tanana River floodplain. Ecology 83:88–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Van Miegroet H, Cole DW (1984) The impact of nitrification on soil acidification and cation leaching in a red alder ecosystem. J Environ Qual 13:586–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Van Patten DJ (2005) Soil survey of western Kenai Peninsula area, Alaska. Natural Resources Conservation Service, USA, 617 ppGoogle Scholar
  64. Viereck LA, Little EL (2007) Alaska trees and shrubs. University of Alaska Press, FairbanksGoogle Scholar
  65. Viereck LA, Dyrness CT, Batten AR, Wenzlick KJ (1992) The Alaska vegetation classification. PNW-GTR-286, 278 ppGoogle Scholar
  66. Watmough SA, Eimers MC, Aherne J, Dillon PJ (2004) Climate effects on stream nitrate concentrations at 16 forested catchments in south central Ontario. Environ Sci Technol 38:2383–2388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Werner RA, Holsten EH, Matsuoka SM, Burnside RE (2006) Spruce beetles and forest ecosystems in south-central Alaska: a review of 30 years of research. For Ecol Manage 227:195–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Whytemare AB, Edmonds RL, Aber JD, Lajtha K (1997) Influence of excess nitrogen deposition on a white spruce (Picea glauca) stand in southern Alaska. Biogeochemistry 38:173–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wigington PJ, Church MR, Strickland TC, Eshleman KN, Van Sickle J (1998) Autumn chemistry of Oregon Coast Range streams. J Am Water Resour Assoc 34:1035–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wipfli MS, Hudson JP, Chaloner DT, Caouette JR (1999) Influence of salmon spawner densities on stream productivity in Southeast Alaska. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 56:1600–1611Google Scholar
  71. Wood SN (2008) Fast stable direct fitting and smoothness selection for generalized additive models. J R Stat Soc 70:495–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zuur AF, Ieno EN, Walker NJ, Saveliev AA, Smith GM (2009) Mixed effects models and extensions in ecology with R. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca S. Shaftel
    • 1
  • Ryan S. King
    • 1
  • Jeffrey A. Back
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems ResearchBaylor UniversityWacoUSA

Personalised recommendations