Nutrient Loss Accelerated by Clear-Cutting of a Forest Ecosystem

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Science  23 Feb 1968:
Vol. 159, Issue 3817, pp. 882-884
DOI: 10.1126/science.159.3817.882


The forest of a small watershed-ecosystem was cut in order to determine the effects of removal of vegetation on nutrient cycles. Relative to undisturbed ecosystems, the cut ecosystem exhibited accelerated loss of nutrients: nitrogen lost during the first year after cutting was equivalent to the amount annually turned over in an undisturbed system, and losses of cations were 3 to 20 times greater than from comparable undisturbed systems. Possible causes of the pattern of nutrient loss from the cut ecosystem are discussed.