, Volume 105, Issue 1–3, pp 75–88 | Cite as

Effects of land cover on chemical characteristics of streams in the Cerrado region of Brazil

  • José Salomão Oliveira Silva
  • Mercedes Maria da Cunha Bustamante
  • Daniel Markewitz
  • Alex Vladimir Krusche
  • Laerte Guimarães Ferreira


The Cerrado is the second largest Brazilian biome and contains the headwaters of three major hydrological basins in Brazil. In spite of the biological and ecological relevance of this biome, there is little information about how land use changes affect the chemistry of low-order streams in the Cerrado. To evaluate these effects streams that drain areas under natural, rural, and urban land cover were sampled near Brasília, Brazil. Water samples were collected between September 2004 and December 2006. Chemical concentrations generally followed the pattern of Urban > Rural > Natural. Median conductivity of stream water of 21.6 (interquartile: 22.7) μS/cm in urban streams was three and five-fold greater relative to rural and natural areas, respectively. In the wet season, despite of increasing discharge, concentration of many solutes were higher, particularly in rural and natural streams. Streams also presented higher total dissolved N (TDN) loads from natural to rural and urban although DIN:DON ratios did not differ significantly. In natural and urban streams TDN was 80 and 77% dissolved organic N, respectively. These results indicate that alterations in land cover from natural to rural and urban are changing stream water chemistry in the Cerrado with increasing solute concentrations, in addition to increased TDN output in areas under urban cover, with potential effects on ecosystem function.


Gallery forest Nutrient fluxes Savannas Tropical catchments 



The authors thanks to the administration and staff of the Ecological Reserve of IBGE and Águas Emendadas Ecological Station for the support to this study. We are also very grateful to Mr. Dimas and Sigfrido for allowing us to conduct this research on their properties. We would like also to thank the team of Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura/USP, IESA/UFG and Ester Albuquerque, Viviane Teixeira de Miranda, Gilberto do Banho Cossac and Adriano Porto from the Department of Ecology of the University of Brasília (UnB) for assistance during field and laboratory measurements. Dr Cristina Brandão (FT) and Dr. Eloi Campos (UnB) contributed with valuable advice throughout this study. This research was funded by NASA under Large Scale Biosphere–Atmosphere in Amazonia (LBA) project ND-07 and by EPA. JSO Silva received a scholarship from CNPq (Brazil).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Salomão Oliveira Silva
    • 1
  • Mercedes Maria da Cunha Bustamante
    • 1
  • Daniel Markewitz
    • 2
  • Alex Vladimir Krusche
    • 3
  • Laerte Guimarães Ferreira
    • 4
  1. 1.Departmento de EcologiaUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasiliaBrazil
  2. 2.The University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Centro de Energia Nuclear na AgriculturaUniversidade de São PauloPiracicabaBrazil
  4. 4.Instituto de Estudos Sócio-AmbientaisUniversidade Federal de GoiásGoiásBrazil

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