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Seasonal Fluxes of Dissolved Nutrients in Streams of Catchments Dominated by Swidden Agriculture in the Maya Forest of Belize, Central America

1
Shoals Marine Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Morse Hall, Suite 113, 8 College Road, Durham, NH 03824, USA
2
U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, 1451 Green Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA
3
Department of Geography and Planning, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12222, USA
4
Department of Geography, Ohio State University, 1169 Derby Hall, 154 North Oval Mall Columbus, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
5
Department of Geological Sciences and Land Use and Environmental Change Institute, University of Florida, 241 Williamson Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
6
Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, 328 Newins-Ziegler Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(4), 664; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040664
Received: 12 November 2018 / Revised: 22 March 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2019 / Published: 31 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current and Emerging Issues Surrounding Water in the Americas)
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Abstract

The biogeochemistry of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in tropical streams and rivers is strongly regulated by the pronounced seasonality of rainfall and associated changes in hydrology. Land use and land cover change (LULCC) can also be a dominant driver of changes in stream biogeochemistry yet responses are not fully understood and vary across different LULCC scenarios. We measured dissolved and total nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations in four tributary streams of the Temash River watershed in southern Belize, Central America. The dominant land use practice in each of the four study catchments was swidden agriculture. We documented a strong seasonal control on the export of nutrients from these study systems with daily N fluxes increasing approximately 10-fold during the onset of the rainy season. P fluxes increased almost 4-fold during the same time period. Comparisons with nutrient export coefficients from other tropical streams suggest that nutrient export in streams of the Temash River watershed is similar or slightly lower. Establishing improved understanding of the terrestrial and hydrologic controls of N and P transport across the terrestrial-aquatic boundary and developing a comprehensive nutrient budget that includes inputs and outputs associated with crop production is warranted in future work. View Full-Text
Keywords: stream nutrients; flood pulse; seasonal; tropical streams; Temash River; Belize stream nutrients; flood pulse; seasonal; tropical streams; Temash River; Belize
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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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Buck, D.G.; Esselman, P.C.; Jiang, S.; Wainwright, J.D.; Brenner, M.; Cohen, M.J. Seasonal Fluxes of Dissolved Nutrients in Streams of Catchments Dominated by Swidden Agriculture in the Maya Forest of Belize, Central America. Water 2019, 11, 664.

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