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Title: Experimental nutrient enrichment of forest streams reduces ecosystem nitrogen and phosphorus storage

Streams store nutrients in standing stocks of organic matter (OM) and associated biologically sequestered elements. Unlike standing stocks of autotrophs, detritus is depleted by nutrient enrichment, potentially reducing areal storage of detritus‐associated nutrients. To test effects of nutrient‐loading on storage of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) by autotrophic and detrital‐pool compartments, we quantified the effects of 2 yr of continuous experimental N and P additions on fine benthic organic matter (FBOM), leaves, wood, and biofilms in five forest streams. Our design tested the relative strength of N vs. P on OM nutrient content, areal OM storage, and areal nutrient storage in OM types. Enrichment increased nutrient content of all OM types; %P increased more than %N in leaves, wood, and biofilms, but not FBOM. Biofilm %P and %N increased more than in all detrital types. Areal FBOM and leaf storage declined with nutrient enrichment. Biofilm standing stocks were generally higher with enrichment but were not related to the streamwater N and P gradients. Despite increased OM nutrient content, total areal nutrient storage in leaves and wood decreased due to reduced OM storage. Although annual nutrient storage was stabilized by FBOM, seasonal variation in nutrient storage increased with enrichment. Leaf‐associated nutrient storage was reduced in most seasons, whereas FBOM and biofilm nutrient storage increased in winter and spring, respectively, relative to pretreatment. Overall, the combined responses of all OM types to enrichment resulted in reduced storage and altered seasonal availability of carbon and nutrients, which has implications for consumers and downstream processes.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Limnology and Oceanography
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1670-1685
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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