Title: Linkages between forest soils and water quality and quantity
Author: Neary, Daniel G.; Ice, George G.; Jackson, C. Rhett
Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 2269-2281.
Description: The most sustainable and best quality fresh water sources
in the world originate in forest ecosystems. The biological,
chemical, and physical characteristics of forest soils are
well suited to delivering high quality water to streams, moderating
stream hydrology, and providing diverse aquatic habitat. Forest
soils feature litter layers and high organic contents, both of
which contribute to an abundant and diverse micro- and macro-fauna.
Root systems under forests are extensive and relatively deep
compared to agricultural lands and grasslands. Together, these
biological conditions create soils with highmacroporosity, low
bulk density, and highly saturated hydraulic conductivities and
infiltration rates. Consequently, surface runoff is rare in forest
environments, andmost rainfall moves to streams by subsurface
flow pathways where nutrient uptake, cycling, and contaminant
sorption processes are rapid. Because of the dominance of subsurface
flow processes, peak flows are moderated and baseflows are prolonged.
Conversion of forests to row crops, pastures, or lawns almost
always results in deterioration of water quality. In North America,
the majority of municipalities ultimately rely on forested watersheds
to provide adequate quantities of high quality water for human
use. This is particularly true in the western and eastern parts
of the continent where human populations are large or growing
rapidly. Forest soils provide the perfect conditions for creating
high quality water supplies. This paper provides a historical
perspective of the linkage between forest soils and water quantity
and quality over the past century, and it also makes predictions
about research directions in the area of forest soil and water
Keywords: watershed management, forest soils, science development, research needs
View and Print this Publication (733.25 KB)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility
Neary, Daniel G.; Ice, George G.; Jackson, C. Rhett 2009. Linkages between forest soils and water quality and quantity. Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 2269-2281..