Precipitation, throughfall, soil solution and streamwater chemistry in a holm-oak (Quercus ilex) forest

Ferran Rodà, Anna Avila, David Bonilla

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Bulk precipitation, throughfall, soil solution at 20 and 40 cm depths, and stream water were monitored for 2-4 years in a holm-oak forest on schists in the Montseny Mountains (NE Spain). Bulk precipitation was mildly acidic, with Ca2+ and SO2-4 as dominant ions. Canopy interactions produced a throughfall less acidic than bulk precipitation and enriched in all other ions. Large amounts of K+ were leached from the canopy. Magnesium in net throughfall behaved similarly to K+, and it is concluded that leaching makes a major contribution to Mg2+ enrichment beneath the canopy. Judging from the moderate increase of Na+ and Ca2+ in throughfall, dry deposition rates for both marine and continental aerosols were low in the studied stand, probably because of its sheltered topographic position within a well-vegetated massif, coupled with moderate tree height and low canopy roughness. Soil solution in the mineral soil was less acidic than throughfall. In common with most temperate forests, SO2-4 was the dominant mobile anion in the soil water, being largely accompanied by Ca2+. Potassium and NO-3 were depleted within the soil water with respect to throughfall, probably owing to biological uptake and cation exchange, and incorporation of K+ into clay lattices. Subsurface flow dominated the hydrology of the small forested catchment studied. Stream water was basic and rich in bicarbonate. Its chemistry revealed fast rates of weathering of sodium- and magnesium-bearing silicates (mainly albite and chlorite, respectively). Soil respiration and silicate hydrolysis resulted in HCO-3 being the dominant mobile anion in stream water. Calcium to chloride ratios were similar in bulk precipitation and in stream water, indicating that Ca2+ release from weathering has been counteracted by plant uptake. Nutrient uptake by this aggrading forest strongly influences the solution dynamics of K+, NO3 and Ca2+. It is concluded that: (1) this forest does not currently receive acidic atmospheric deposition; (2) the neutralization capacity of the soil-bedrock system is quite high; (3) biotic regulation and silicate weathering are the major processes shaping the solution biogeochemistry in this Mediterranean forest ecosystem. © 1990.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-183
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1990


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