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Volume 1 (2001), Pages 572-580
Research Article

Regional Comparison of Nitrogen Export to Japanese Forest Streams

Northern Forestry Research and Development Office, Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere, Hokkaido, Nayoro, Japan

Academic Editor: Joe Wisniewski

Copyright © 2001 Hideaki Shibata et al.


Nitrogen (N) emissions in Asian countries are predicted to increase over the next several decades. An understanding of the mechanisms that control temporal and spatial fluctuation of N export to forest streams is important not only to quantify critical loads of N, N saturation status, and soil acidification N dynamics and budgets in Japanese forested watersheds is not clear due to the lack of regional comparative studies on stream N chemistry. To address the lack of comparative studies, we measured inorganic N (nitrate and ammonium) concentrations from June 2000 to May 2001 in streams in 18 experimental forests located throughout the Japanese archipelago and belonging to the Japanese Union of University Forests. N concentrations in stream water during base flow and high flow periods were monitored, and N mineralization potential in soil was measured using batch incubation experiments. Higher nitrate concentrations in stream water were present in central Japan, an area that receives high rates of atmospheric N deposition. In northern Japan, snowmelt resulted in increased nitrate concentrations in stream water. The potential net N mineralization rate was higher in surface soil than in subsurface soil, and the high potential for N mineralization in the surface soil partly contributed to the increase in nitrate concentration in stream water during a storm event. Regional differences in the atmospheric N deposition and seasonality of precipitation and high discharge are principal controls on the concentrations and variations of nitrates in stream water in forested watersheds of Japan.