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Forests 2017, 8(1), 5; doi:10.3390/f8010005

Influence of Forest Harvest on Nitrate Concentration in Temperate Streams—A Meta-Analysis

Biometry and Environmental System Analysis, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
Current address: Tennenbacherstr. 4, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Henning Meesenburg
Received: 18 October 2016 / Revised: 15 December 2016 / Accepted: 16 December 2016 / Published: 22 December 2016
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Abstract

Forest harvest alters natural nutrient cycles, which is reflected in stream water run-off from harvested catchments. Nitrate is an essential nutrient for plant growth, but increased concentrations in rivers, lakes, and oceans have contributed to eutrophication and anoxic conditions. Based on a literature review, we assessed the impact of three different harvest methods—clearcut, patchcut, and selective harvest—on nitrate concentrations in temperate forest streams. In a meta-analysis, the influence of harvest methods and additional environmental variables was analysed. Nitrate concentrations are significantly influenced by harvest methods, forest composition, site altitude, and time passed after the harvesting. The remaining unexplained between-site variability is small compared to the between-site variability explained by the model, indicating the model’s validity. The effect of forest harvest is most pronounced in coniferous and deciduous forests, where clearcuts and patchcuts result in high nitrate run-off three to five years after harvest. Mixed forest plots can compensate for clearcut and patchcut, and do not show a significantly increased nitrate concentration after harvest. Selective harvest at low intensities succeeded in maintaining nitrate levels similar to control or pre-harvest levels in coniferous and mixed forests, and showed a positive but not significant trend in deciduous forests. Coniferous and deciduous monocultures clearly face the problem that nitrate wash-out cannot be minimized by reducing clearcut to patchcut harvest, whereas mixed forests are more suitable to diminish nitrate wash-out in both clearcut and patchcut. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest management; water quality; nitrogen; water chemistry forest management; water quality; nitrogen; water chemistry
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Mupepele, A.-C.; Dormann, C.F. Influence of Forest Harvest on Nitrate Concentration in Temperate Streams—A Meta-Analysis. Forests 2017, 8, 5.

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