Runoff sources and land cover change in the Amazon : an end-member mixing analysis from small watersheds

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2011-03
Authors
Neill, Christopher
Chaves, Joaquin E.
Biggs, Trent
Deegan, Linda A.
Elsenbeer, Helmut
Figueiredo, Ricardo O.
Germer, Sonja
Johnson, Mark S.
Lehmann, Johannes
Markewitz, Daniel
Piccolo, Marisa C.
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Cattle pasture
Deforestation
Flowpaths
Principal components analysis
Overland flow
Soil solution
Abstract
The flowpaths by which water moves from watersheds to streams has important consequences for the runoff dynamics and biogeochemistry of surface waters in the Amazon Basin. The clearing of Amazon forest to cattle pasture has the potential to change runoff sources to streams by shifting runoff to more surficial flow pathways. We applied end member mixing analysis (EMMA) to ten small watersheds throughout the Amazon in which solute composition of streamwater and groundwater, overland flow, soil solution, throughfall and rainwater were measured, largely as part of the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia. We found a range in the extent to which streamwater samples fell within the mixing space determined by potential flowpath end members, suggesting that some water sources to streams were not sampled. The contribution of overland flow as a source of stream flow was greater in pasture watersheds than in forest watersheds of comparable size. Increases in overland flow contribution to pasture streams ranged in some cases from 0% in forest to 27 to 28% in pasture and were broadly consistent with results from hydrometric sampling of Amazon forest and pasture watersheds that indicate 17- to 18-fold increase in the overland flow contribution to stream flow in pastures. In forest, overland flow was an important contribution to stream flow (45 to 57%) in ephemeral streams where flows were dominated by stormflow. Overland flow contribution to stream flow decreased in importance with increasing watershed area, from 21 to 57% in forest and 60 to 89% in pasture watersheds <10 ha to 0% in forest and 27 to 28% in pastures in watersheds >100 ha. Soil solution contributions to stream flow were similar across watershed area and groundwater inputs generally increased in proportion to decreases in overland flow. Application of EMMA across multiple watersheds indicated patterns across gradients of stream size and land cover that were consistent with patterns determined by detailed hydrometric sampling.
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Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Biogeochemistry 105 (2011): 7-18, doi:10.1007/s10533-011-9597-8.
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