Landscape Biogeochemistry: A New Component of the KBS LTER Project

Hamilton, S.K.

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting (1998-07-21 to 1998-07-22 )

One of the main ways in which environments interact at the landscape scale is through the fluxes of water by surface and subsurface pathways. Lakes, wetlands, and streams are abundant and diverse in the glacial landscape around KBS and represent an important recreational and aesthetic resource (Fig. 2.14). The central question we intend to address with our new landscape biogeochemistry component is “How do current and future land use and landscape patterns affect the fluxes of water and nutrients from upland areas to lakes, streams and wetlands?” Our studies of land-water linkages will benefit from the detailed understanding of terrestrial ecosystems provided by previous LTER research, as well as an extensive body of limnological research on local lakes and streams.We will measure hydrochemistry (major solutes and nutrients) at key points along hydrological flow paths, beginning with precipitation and including infiltrating soil water, ground waters, springs, streams, wetlands, and lakes (Fig. 2.14). The study area is defined as a watershed subunit that encompasses the LTER site and is bounded by Gull Lake on the west and Augusta Creek on the east (Fig. 2.14). Sampling will be performed over several years to reveal both seasonal and interannual variability. Spatially-explicit hydrogeological models will be employed to determine flow paths and transit times for subsurface water movement, as well as to simulate the loading of pollutants from various landscape units. In the future, changes in land use and landscape patterns associated with the increasing conversion of rural land to residential use will alter the magnitudes and relative proportions of nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes from the land surface to lakes, streams, and wetlands. In addition, climate change will affect the water balance, most likely leading to dryer conditions during the growing season and decreased water tables. Our comprehensive understanding of water and nutrient fluxes across the local landscape will reveal how surface and subsurface water resources are impacted by these changes.Return to Contents

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