Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2013DE255B

Acid Neutralization of Stemflow in a Deciduous Forest: The Role of Edge Effects

Institute: Delaware
Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $3,000

Principal Investigators: Delphis Levia, Alexey Shiklomanov

Abstract: Stemflow, the flow of water intercepted by the canopy down the trunk or stem of a plant, is an important pathway for precipitation and nutrients from the canopy to the soil. The effects of stemflow on soil properties have long been documented (e.g., Gersper and Holowaychuk, 1971). For example, stemflow can affect soil acidification around the base of trees (Falkengren-Grerup, 1989), cation exchange capacity (Chang and Matzner, 2000), and aluminum transport (Nikodem et al., 2013). Despite the importance of stemflow for soil chemistry and moisture distribution, this is a relatively understudied phenomenon. The proposed research seeks to contribute to scientific understanding of the impact of stemflow on soil chemistry by investigating the buffering capacity against soil acidification (Acid-Neutralizing Capacity or ANC) of stemflow water in relation to canopies in different forest positions. Forest soil acidification has been reported to promote soil acid infertility, characterized by elevated Al or H+ toxicity and nutrient deficiency (Wolt, 1990). Results of the proposed research can provide valuable insights into forest ecosystem services. This work can also contribute to formulation of policy to better protect forests from the deleterious effects of acidification.