Fernández-Martínez M., Margalef O., Sayol F., Asensio D., Bagaria G., Corbera J., Sabater F., Domene X., Preece C. (2019) Sea spray influences water chemical composition of Mediterranean semi-natural springs. Catena. 173: 414-423.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.catena.2018.10.035
Sea spray aerosol (SSA) is responsible for the large-scale transfer of particles from the sea to the land, leading to significant deposition of a range of ions, predominantly Na+, K+, Mg2+ Ca2+, and Cl−. Up to now, there has been little research into the effects of SSA on spring water chemistry. Therefore, we sampled 303 semi-natural springs across Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula) and analysed the concentrations of 20 different ions and elements, and determined the impact of SSA (using distance to the coast as a proxy) as well as climate, lithology and human disturbances. We found that distance to the coast had a clear effect on the water chemical composition of springs, while accounting for potentially confounding factors such as anthropogenic water pollution (nitrate, NO3 −), differences in lithology and annual rainfall. Our results showed that springs located closer to the coast had higher Cl−, SO4 2−, Na+, Mg2+, K+ and Ca2+ concentrations than those of springs located further away. Precipitation was generally negatively correlated with the concentration of almost all elements analysed. The concentration of NO3 − increased with distance to the coast, concurrently with farming activities, located mainly inland in the study area. These results demonstrate that SSA has an important effect on the groundwater of coastal zones, up to a distance of around 70 km from the coastline. This analysis reveals the main natural and human processes that influence spring water chemistry in this Mediterranean region, information that could be helpful in similar regions for ecological studies, water quality policies, and for the improvement of predictions in the current context of global change. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Harjung A., Ejarque E., Battin T., Butturini A., Sabater F., Stadler M., Schelker J. (2019) Experimental evidence reveals impact of drought periods on dissolved organic matter quality and ecosystem metabolism in subalpine streams. Limnology and Oceanography. 64: 46-60.LinkDoi: 10.1002/lno.11018
Subalpine streams are predicted to experience lower summer discharge following climate change and water extractions. In this study, we aimed to understand how drought periods impact dissolved organic matter (DOM) processing and ecosystem metabolism of subalpine streams. We mimicked a gradient of drought conditions in stream-side flumes and evaluated implications of drought on DOM composition, gross primary production, and ecosystem respiration. Our experiment demonstrated a production and release of DOM from biofilms and leaf litter decomposition at low discharges, increasing dissolved organic carbon concentrations in stream water by up to 50%. Absorbance and fluorescence properties suggested that the released DOM was labile for microbial degradation. Dissolved organic carbon mass balances revealed a high contribution of internal processes to the carbon budget during low flow conditions. The flumes with low discharge were transient sinks of atmospheric CO2 during the first 2 weeks of drought. After this autotrophic phase, the metabolic balance of these flumes turned heterotrophic, suggesting a nutrient limitation for primary production, while respiration remained high. Overall our experimental findings suggest that droughts in subalpine streams will enhance internal carbon cycling by transiently increasing primary production and more permanently respiration as the drought persists. We propose that the duration of a drought period combined with inorganic nutrient availability are key variables that determine if more carbon is respired in situ or exported downstream. © 2018 The Authors. Limnology and Oceanography published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.
Harjung A., Perujo N., Butturini A., Romaní A.M., Sabater F. (2019) Responses of microbial activity in hyporheic pore water to biogeochemical changes in a drying headwater stream. Freshwater Biology. 64: 735-749.LinkDoi: 10.1111/fwb.13258
Microbial heterotrophic activity is a major driver of nutrient and organic matter processing in the hyporheic zone of headwater streams. Additionally, the hyporheic zone might provide refuge for microbes when surface flow ceases during drought events. We investigated chemical (organic and inorganic nutrients) and microbiological parameters (bacterial cell concentration, live–dead ratios, and extracellular enzyme activities) of surface and interstitial pore water in a period of progressive surface-hyporheic disconnection due to summer drying. The special situation of the chosen study reach, where groundwater mixing is impeded by the bedrock forming a natural channel filled with sediment, allowed as to study the transformation of these parameters along hyporheic flow paths. The chemical composition of the hyporheic pore water reflected the connectivity with the surface water, as expressed in the availability of nitrate and oxygen. Conversely, microbiological parameters in all hyporheic locations were different from the surface waters, suggesting that the microbial activity in the water changes rapidly once the water enters the hyporheic zone. This feature was principally manifested in higher live–dead ratios and lower leucine aminopeptidase (an activity related to nitrogen acquisition) in the hyporheic pore waters. Overall, bacterial cell concentration and extracellular enzyme activities increased along hyporheic flow paths, with a congruent decrease in inorganic nutrients and dissolved organic matter quantity and apparent molecular size. Our findings show two important functions of the hyporheic zone during drought: (1) deeper (−50 cm) water-saturated layers can act as a refuge for microbial activity; and (2) the hyporheic zone shows high rates of carbon and nitrogen turnover when water residence times are longer during drought. These rates might be even enhanced by an increase in living microbes in the remaining moist locations of the hyporheic zone. © 2019 The Authors. Freshwater Biology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Poblador S., Lupon A., Martí E., Sabater F., Sabaté S., Bernal S. (2019) The influence of the invasive alien nitrogen-fixing Robinia pseudoacacia L. on soil nitrogen availability in a mixed Mediterranean riparian forest. European Journal of Forest Research. 138: 1083-1093.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s10342-019-01226-x
Robinia pseudoacacia L. occupies large areas of Mediterranean riparian zones of the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. This study investigates the influence of the invasive alien nitrogen-fixing R. pseudoacacia on leaf litter nitrogen (N) inputs and soil N availability in a mixed riparian forest in NE Spain. We measured annual leaf litter N inputs, decomposition rates, soil N processes, and soil N concentrations at three sections (near-stream, intermediate, and hillslope) across a riparian forested zone. Moreover, we explored changes in soil N availability associated with the presence of R. pseudoacacia by means of an empirical forest floor model. Leaf litter N content was higher for R. pseudoacacia than for the native non-fixing species. Although the contribution of R. pseudoacacia to annual leaf litter N inputs increased from the near-stream to the hillslope section, soil N mineralization, nitrification, and N availability were similar among sections. Simulations suggest that soil N availability was higher at the near-stream than at the hillslope section without the presence of R. pseudoacacia. However, this pattern smoothed down as R. pseudoacacia spread across the riparian forest. Overall, our results suggest that the spreading of R. pseudoacacia across the riparian zone contributed to homogenize soil N availability over time, and highlight that an integrated spatiotemporal view of the invasive process is needed to assess its impact on soil N biogeochemistry. © 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.
Poblador S., Thomas Z., Rousseau-Gueutin P., Sabaté S., Sabater F. (2019) Riparian forest transpiration under the current and projected Mediterranean climate: Effects on soil water and nitrate uptake. Ecohydrology. 12: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1002/eco.2043
Vegetation plays a key role in riparian area functioning by controlling water and nitrate (N─NO3 −) transfers to streams. We investigated how spatial heterogeneity modifies the influence of vegetation transpiration on soil water and N─NO3 − balances in the vadose soil of a Mediterranean riparian forest. On the basis of field data, we simulated water flow and N─NO3 − transport in three riparian zones (i.e., near-stream, intermediate, and hillslope) using HYDRUS-1D model. We investigated spatiotemporal patterns across the riparian area over a 3-year period and future years using an IPCC/CMIP5 climate projection for the Mediterranean region. Potential evapotranspiration was partitioned between evaporation and transpiration to estimate transpiration rates at the area. Denitrification in the forest was negligible, thus N─NO3 − removal was only considered through plant uptake. For the three riparian zones, the model successfully predicted field soil moisture (θ). The near-stream zone exchanged larger volumes of water and supported higher θ and transpiration rates (666 ± 75 mm) than the other two riparian zones. Total water fluxes, θ, and transpiration rates decreased near the intermediate (536 ± 46 mm transpired) and hillslope zones (406 ± 26 mm transpired), suggesting that water availability was restricted due to deeper groundwater. Transpiration strongly decreased θ and soil N─NO3 − in the hillslope and intermediate zones. Our climate projections highlight the importance of groundwater availability and indicate that soil N─NO3 − would be expected to increase due to changes in plant-root uptake. Lower water availability in the hillslope zone may reduce the effectiveness of N─NO3 − removal in the riparian area, increasing the risk of excess N─NO3 − leaching into the stream. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Bes M., Corbera J., Sayol F., Bagaria G., Jover M., Preece C., Viza A., Sabater F., Fernández-Martínez M. (2018) On the influence of water conductivity, pH and climate on bryophyte assemblages in Catalan semi-natural springs. Journal of Bryology. : 1-10.LinkDoi: 10.1080/03736687.2018.1446484
Bryophytes are some of the most sensitive biological indicators of environmental change. Springs have a significant presence of bryophytes and so are ideal habitats for studying their relationship with the environment. We tested whether bryophyte assemblages can be explained with macro-, meso- and micro-ecological variables (i.e. seasonal climate, altitude, water pH and conductivity) sampling bryophytes from 198 semi-natural springs distributed along montane regions in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula. We tested the influence of environmental variables on bryophyte assemblages in springs using sparse Partial Least Squares. Our results show that variability in bryophyte assemblages is explained by seasonal climate (temperature and precipitation from winter, spring, summer and autumn and temperature and precipitation seasonality), altitude and water conductivity. The results obtained by the present study will be useful for predicting bryophyte diversity in springs using simple and easy to obtain variables such as climate, water pH and conductivity. © British Bryological Society 2018
Lupon A., Sabater F., Bernal S. (2017) The influence of Mediterranean riparian forests on stream nitrogen dynamics: A review from a catchment perspective. Limnetica. 36: 507-523.LinkDoi: 10.23818/limn.36.18
Riparian zones are considered natural filters of nitrogen (N) within catchments because they can substantially diminish the exports of N from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems. However, understanding the influence of riparian zones on regulating N exports at the catchment scale still remains a big challenge in ecology, mainly because upscaling plot scale results is difficult, as it is disentangling the effects of riparian, upland, and in-stream processes on stream water chemistry. In this review, we summarize previous studies examining key hydrological and biogeochemical processes by which Mediterranean riparian zones regulate catchment water and N exports.We focus onMediterranean regions because they experience a marked climatic seasonality that facilitates disentangling the close link between climate, riparian hydrology, and stream N exports. We show that Mediterranean riparian soils can be hot spots of N mineralization and nitrification within catchments given their relatively moist conditions and large stocks of N-rich leaf litter. Extremely large nitrification rates can occur during short-Time periods (i.e. hot moments) and lead to increases in stream N loads, suggesting that riparian soils can be a potential source of N to adjacent aquatic systems. Moreover, riparian trees can contribute to decrease riparian groundwater level during the vegetative period, and promote reverse fluxes from the stream to the riparian zone. During periods of high hydrological retention, stream water exports to downstream ecosystem decrease, while stream water chemistry is mostly determined by in-stream processes. Riparian tree phenology can also affect catchment N exports by shaping the temporal pattern of both light and litter inputs into the stream. In spring, light enhances in-stream photoautotrophic N uptake before riparian leaf-out, while riparian leaf litter inputs promote in-stream N mineralization in summer and fall. Finally, we illustrate that the impact of Mediterranean riparian zones on stream hydrology and biogeochemistry increases along the stream continuum, and can ultimately influence catchment N exports to downstream ecosystems. Overall, findings gathered in this review question the well-established idea that riparian zones are efficient N buffers, at least for Mediterranean regions, and stress that an integrated view of upland, riparian, and stream ecosystems is essential for advancing our understanding of catchment hydrology and biogeochemistry. © Asociación Ibérica de Limnología, Madrid. Spain.
Nadal-Sala D., Sabaté S., Sánchez-Costa E., Poblador S., Sabater F., Gracia C. (2017) Growth and water use performance of four co-occurring riparian tree species in a Mediterranean riparian forest. Forest Ecology and Management. 396: 132-142.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2017.04.021
Mediterranean riparian zones act as vegetation shelters for several deciduous tree species at the edge of their bioclimatic distribution, e.g. alder (Alnus glutinosa), black poplar (Populus nigra) or ash (Fraxinus excelsior). Current global warming and human induced disturbances may worsen their growing conditions. Under such circumstances, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is outcompeting autochthonous tree species. Here, we provide evidences of black locust better growth and water use performance than alder and ash. We compare the temporal and spatial patterns of transpiration and the stem basal area increments of alder, black poplar, common ash and black locust, all of them co-occurring in a mixed riparian Mediterranean forest. Black locust presented the lowest transpiration values per basal area unit (4.0 mm·m−2·growing season−1). Although tree transpiration was mainly driven by energy availability instead of water, ash transpiration was constrained by water availability at soil water contents below 0.08 cm3·cm−3. Black locust was the only tree species growing all over the water availability gradient present in the study site, and it did not present any significant difference in sap flow values across this gradient. Furthermore, black locust and black poplar were the species with higher growth-based water use efficiency (5.4 g·cm−1·m−3 and 3.6 g·cm−1·m−3, respectively); ash and alder were the less efficient ones (2.8 g·cm−1·m−3 and 1.9 g·cm−1·m−3respectively). The good performance of black locust is relevant to understand its great successful invasion of Mediterranean riparian forests, particularly after human-induced disturbances, as forest management. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.
Poblador, S., Lupon, A., Sabaté, S., Sabater, F. (2017) Soil water content drives spatiotemporal patterns of CO2 and N2O emissions from a Mediterranean riparian forest soil. Biogeosciences. 14: 4195-4208.LinkDoi: 10.5194/bg-14-4195-2017
Harjung, A., Sabater, F., Butturini, A. (2016) Hydrological connectivity drives dissolved organic matter processing in an intermittent stream. Limnologica. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.limno.2017.02.007
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