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Individual Highlight

Nutrient Cycling Through Wetlands in Southeast Alaska Affects Stream Carbon

Photo of A regional watershed evaluation in southeast Alaska provided fundamental understanding about how carbon moves between land and water. USDA Forest ServiceA regional watershed evaluation in southeast Alaska provided fundamental understanding about how carbon moves between land and water. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : The coastal temperate rainforest of southeast Alaska can be characterized by the constant flow of water between the terrestrial and aquatic systems. As the water drains from steep slopes into wetlands, streams, rivers, and estuaries of the Gulf of Alaska, it carries nutrients that influence of the productivity of the watershed. To better understand the role that the region’s extensive wetlands play in nutrient cycling, scientists with the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station and their partners designed and implemented a regional watershed evaluation in southeast Alaska.

Principal Investigators(s) :
D'Amore, David V. 
Research Location : Alaska
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 795

Summary

A regional watershed evaluation in southeast Alaska revealed that wetlands affect stream carbon concentrations. The research team's findings were integrated to create a model for the production and export of abundant organic material from wetland soils that is closely associated with the flux of water in the coastal temperate rainforest. Nutrient cycling and export of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in peatlands, and the cumulative impact of these cycles across several spatial scales is now better understood because of this collaborative terrestrial and aquatic research program. These combined studies established a fundamental understanding of the movement of carbon from terrestrial to aquatic zones in watersheds with significant wetland acreage. The information established values for dissolved carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus export from watersheds that can be used to develop methods for evaluating watershed conditions by forest managers.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • USDA Forest Service Alaska Region
  • Colorado State University
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • University of Alaska Southeast
  • University of Washington,