The Chemistry of Throughfall, Stemflow and Soil Water Beneath Oak Woodland and Moorland Vegetation in Upland Wales

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The chemistry of bulk precipitation, throughfall, stemflow and soil waters beneath an oak wood (Quercus petraea) canopy and soil waters under moorland vegetation were measured at two sites on acid brown podzolic soils near Llyn Brianne in rural mid-Wales, UK. Between March 1986 and November 1988, precipitation was 4354 mm and annual interception losses from the oak canopy averaged 13% of incident precipitation. Throughfall and stemflow were more acid and concentrations of most solutes were increased 2-to 4-fold compared with bulk precipitation. Nitrate was the only solute retained within the tree canopy. Throughfall collected beneath patches of bracken on the forest floor was less acidic but contained substantially higher concentrations of major ions than bulk precipitation and oak throughfall. The moorland soil was more acidic, contained more exchangeable calcium but less exchangeable aluminium and potassium than the woodland soil. Soil waters beneath both vegetation types were acidic (mean pH range 4.5- 4.9) and dominated by sodium and chloride. With the exception of calcium, soil water solute concentrations were greater beneath oak. These differences are ascribed to larger atmospheric inputs beneath the oak canopy compared with the shorter grasses, combined with the effect of differences in nutrient dynamics and water fluxes. Variations in soil water aluminium chemistry are explained in terms of ion exchange and podzolisation processes. The water quality implications of increased upland afforestation of moorland by broadleaved trees are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-134
Number of pages20
JournalChemistry and Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 1994


  • major ions
  • moorland
  • Oak wooland
  • soil watei
  • throughfall


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