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, 155 (3761), 424-9

Nutrient Cycling

Nutrient Cycling

F H Bormann et al. Science.

Abstract

The small-watershed approach to problems of nutrient cycling has these advantages. (i) The small watershed is a natural unit of suitable size for intensive study of nutrient cycling at the ecosystem level. (ii) It provides a means of reducing to a minimum, or virtually eliminating, the effect of the difficult-to-measure variables of geologic input and nutrient losses in deep seepage. Control of these variables makes possible accurate measurement of nutrient input and output (erosion) and therefore establishes the relationship of the smaller ecosystem to the larger biospheric cycles. (iii) The small-watershed approach provides a method whereby such important parameters as nutrient release from minerals (weathering) and annual nutrient budgets may be calculated. (iv) It provides a means of studying the interrelationships between the biota and the hydrologic cycle, various nutrient cycles, and energy flow in a single system. (v) Finally, with the small-watershed system we can test the effect of various land-management practices or environmental pollutants on nutrient cycling in natural systems.

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