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Waterborne nutrient flow through an upland-peatland watershed in Minnesota

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Verry, Elon S.; Timmons, D.R.

Year Published



Ecology. 63(5): 1456-1467.


Water and nutrient flow were measured on a complex upland-peatland watershed in north central Minnesota. Annual water budgets for upland and peatland components and for the total watershed were developed. Nutrient input and output budgets were developed for each component on a seasonal basis, using net precipitation inputs, and an annual nutrient budget was developed for the entire watershed, using gross precipitation and total outputs. Both components evapotranspire water near potential rates. The upland converts 34% of the water input to water yield, while the peatland (a bog in a lower topographic position) converts 55% of its water input to water yield. The upland annually retains some N, P, K, and Ca from net precipitation, but passes through Mg and supplies Na in excess of inputs. The peatland is a nutrient trap retaining 36-60% of all nutrient inputs annually. There are striking differences in the seasonal retention of nutrient forms between the upland and bog. The total watershed accumulates P and (apparently) N but loses more K, Ca, Mg, and Na than it receives in gross precipitation. Nutrient flow is interpreted for the design of nutrient-added technologies (fertilization and sewage treatment) and as a bench mark for nutrient-depleted technology (whole-tree harvesting).


evapotranspiration; hydrology; nutrient cycling; nutrient yield; organic soils; water yield


Verry, Elon S.; Timmons, D.R. 1982. Waterborne nutrient flow through an upland-peatland watershed in Minnesota. Ecology. 63(5): 1456-1467.

Last updated on: November 15, 2007