Description: Western spruce budworm (Choristoneura occidentalis) outbreaks periodically disturb Western US conifer forests by defoliating canopies, which could alter the quantity and chemistry of throughfall delivered to the forest floor. Our objectives were to: i) quantify throughfall water, carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) fluxes under budworm-impacted canopies, and ii) examine the influence of herbivore intensity on flux magnitudes. In June 2015, we installed throughfall collectors in two watersheds experiencing high and background levels of herbivory. In each watershed, four plots, each with three throughfall collectors, were established (n=24) collectors), and two bulk rainfall collectors were installed in areas without canopy cover. Throughfall and rainfall were collected from late June to early November 2015. Samples were analyzed for dissolved organic carbon (DOC), ammonium (NH4-N), and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP). Over the sampling period, throughfall fluxes ranged 8.57 to 47.59 kg/ha for DOC, 0.004-0.011 kg/ha for NH4-N, and 007 - 0.29 kg/ha for SRP. Percent throughfall was slightly, but not significantly, higher in the high (48%) compared to the background watershed (42%). There were no differences in solute concentrations among the watersheds. Net throughfall fluxes, the sum of canopy uptake and leaching and dry/fog deposition, differed significantly for NH4-N by herbivory level and through time for NH4-N and DOC but not SRP. Over time, net NH4-N throughfall fluxes showed a clear transition from net uptake of NH4-N to net leaching of NH4-N in the high herbivory watershed. There was also a clearn NH4-N pulse in the high herbivory watershed after the first, but not subsequent, rainfall events. In this N-limited forest, altered throughfall N may affect soil nutrient cycling and downstream water quality.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Bailey, Jennifer Meghan