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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  20 Apr 2020

20 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Phosphorus Transport in Subsurface Flow at Beech Forest Stands: Does Phosphorus Mobilization Keep up with Transport?

Michael Rinderer1, Jaane Krüger2, Friederike Lang2, Heike Puhlmann3, and Markus Weiler1 Michael Rinderer et al.
  • 1Chair of Hydrology, University Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2Chair of Soil Ecology, University Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  • 3Forstliche Versuchs-und Forschungsanstalt Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg, Germany

Abstract. Phosphorus (P) is a limiting factor of primary productivity in most forest ecosystems but little is known about retention within and losses of P from forests. Subsurface flow (SSF) is one of the important pathways of P export but few attempts exist to quantify it. We present results of sprinkling experiments with ca. 150 mm, 2H labelled, total rainfall conducted at 200 m2 plots on hillslopes with slopes between 14° and 28° at three beech forests in Germany in summer and spring. We aimed at quantifying vertical and lateral SSF and associated P transport in the forest floor, the mineral soil and the saprolite. The study sites differed regarding soil depth, skeleton content and soil P stocks (between 678 g/m2 and 209 g/m2, in the first 1 m soil depth). Vertical SSF in the mineral soil and in the saprolite was at least two orders of magnitude larger than lateral SSF in the same depth. Vertical and lateral SSF consisted mainly of pre-event water that was replaced by sprinkling water (piston flow mechanism). Short spikes of event water at the beginning of the experiment at two of the sites with high skeleton content indicate that preferential flow occurred in parallel to matrix flow. We observed a significant decrease in P concentrations in SSF with increasing soil depth suggesting effective retention of P by adsorption to soil particles in all three forest ecosystems. Higher P concentrations in SSF at the beginning of the experiments indicate nutrient flushing but P concentrations were nearly constant thereafter despite strong increase in SSF. P concentrations did also not change significantly with increasing share of event water in SSF. These chemostatic transport conditions suggests that P mobilization rates were similar to transport rates in both, P-rich and P-poor sites. The observed first flush effect implies that P export by SSF will increase as rainfall events with high transport capacity are predicted to occur more frequent under future climatic conditions.

Michael Rinderer et al.

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Michael Rinderer et al.

Michael Rinderer et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
To quantify Phosphorus loss from forests by vertical and lateral soil water flow, we conducted six sprinkling experiments at three beech forests in Germany. Out data showed a nutrient flashing (high P concentrations) during the first 2 hours after the onset but no further depletion thereafter. This suggest that the mobilization of P can keep up with its transport. We also showed that the P concentrations decreased with soil depth suggesting an efficient retention of P in the forest soil.
To quantify Phosphorus loss from forests by vertical and lateral soil water flow, we conducted...