The concentration and availability of stream nutrients, particularly dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen species, determine aquatic system productivity, and are important indicators of catchment hydrobiogeochemical processes. In semi-arid montane areas, such as the Valles Caldera National Preserve located within the Jemez River Basin, NM, an understanding of the relationship between discharge and nutrient concentrations is particularly important. Although the annual hydrograph is dominated (~40%) by spring snowmelt, similar to well studies sites in the northern Rockies, the JRB region receives a much larger percentage of precipitation associated with summer rainfall, and consequently may provide insight into how more northerly catchments will respond to changing climate. This study focuses on four headwater catchments: History Grove, La Jara, Upper Jaramillo and Upper Redondo, over two water years (2009 to 2011) to examine how nutrient concentrations vary as a function of hillslope aspect, catchment hydrologic responses, seasonality, and discharge. Stream water grab samples were collected on a monthly to weekly basis from 2009 to 2011 and analyzed for inorganic carbon (DIC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen species (total dissolved nitrogen (DN), NO3, NO2, NH4). DOC and DN concentrations in stream waters from all 4 catchments are positively correlated, indicating a tight coupling of carbon and nitrogen. During dry periods (September to February) stream waters have high DIC (4.8-7.6 mg/L), and low DOC (1.6-2.7 mg/L) and DN (<0.3 mg/L) concentrations, indicating that stream water is dominated by groundwater inputs. In contrast, during spring snowmelt (March-May) stream waters have high DOC (2.9-6.2 mg/L) and DN (0.2-0.5mg/L) concentrations and low DIC (3.1-4.5mg/L) values; the majority of DN is comprised of organic-N. These results suggest flushing of shallow soil waters during snowmelt periods. High DIC (5.8-6.3mg/L), and low DOC (1.7-4.0mg/L) and DN (0.1-0.2 mg/L) concentrations in stream waters during the summer monsoon period (June to August) may suggest increased CO2 production converting DOC to DIC coupled with rapid immobilization of mineralized N. Little variation in nutrient concentrations by catchment suggests that hillslope aspect does not play an important role in determining nutrient concentrations and response to discharge variations.
Dannemann, F.K., Zapata, X., McIntosh, J.C., Perdrial, J.N., Brooks, P.D. Chorover, J., Lohse, K.A., Fricke, H.C. (2011): Temporal and spatial dynamics of carbon and nitrogen in headwater snow-dominated catchments, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico . AGU Fall Meeting Presentations (Poster) Abstract B33G-0557..