Integrated Element Cycling

  • Christopher S. Cronan
Part of the Springer Textbooks in Earth Sciences, Geography and Environment book series (STEGE)


Element cycling is a simple concept that describes a vast and complex set of interacting processes that govern the distribution and movement of elements in the biosphere. For any given nutrient or element, it is possible to describe pools where the element is stored or accumulated and fluxes or transfers of the element between storage compartments or pools. Element pools include living biomass, geologic substrates, soil organic matter, and the soil exchange complex. Element fluxes include transfers in leaf litter, canopy leaching, soil leaching, stream export, and atmospheric deposition. This chapter integrates processes from previous chapters to examine system-level cycling of nutrients and other elements at scales ranging from local forest stands to regional drainage basins, and includes a final section on global-scale cycling. Examples from a range of studies illustrate the different ways in which elements accumulate and cycle under varying environmental conditions.


  1. Aber JD, Goodale CL, Ollinger SV, Smith ML, Magill AH, Martin ME, Hallett RA, Stoddard JL (2003) Is nitrogen deposition altering the nitrogen status of northeastern forests? Bioscience 53:375–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bormann FH, Likens GE (1979) Pattern and process in a forested ecosystem. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Castro MS, Driscoll CT, Jordan TE, Reay WG, Boynton WR, Seitzinger SP, Styles RV, Cable JE (2000) Contribution of atmospheric deposition to the total nitrogen loads to thirty-four estuaries on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. In: Valigura RM et al (eds) An assessment of nitrogen loads to United States estuaries with an atmospheric perspective. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 77–106Google Scholar
  4. Chen D, Hu M, Guo Y, Dahlgren RA (2015) Influence of legacy phosphorus, land use, and climate change on anthropogenic phosphorus inputs and riverine export dynamics. Biogeochemistry 123:99–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Christ M, Zhang Y, Likens GE, Driscoll CT (1995) Nitrogen retention capacity of a northern hardwood forest soil under ammonium sulfate additions. Ecol Appl 5:802–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cronan CS (1994) Aluminum biogeochemistry in the ALBIOS forest ecosystems: the role of acidic deposition in aluminum cycling. In: Godbold DL, Huttermann A (eds) Effects of acid rain on Forest processes. Wiley-Liss, New York, pp 51, 419 p–81Google Scholar
  7. Cronan CS, Driscoll CT, Newton RM, Kelly JM, Schofield CL, Bartlett RJ, April R (1990) A comparative analysis of aluminum biogeochemistry in a northeastern and southeastern forested watershed. Water Resour Res 26:1413–1430Google Scholar
  8. David MB, Gentry LE (2000) Anthropogenic inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus and riverine export for Illinois, USA. J Environ Qual 29:494–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dise NB, Matzner E, Gundersen P (1998) Synthesis of nitrogen pools and fluxes from European forest ecosystems. Water Air Soil Pollut 105:143–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fisk MC, Zak DR, Crow TR (2002) Nitrogen storage and cycling in old and second-growth northern hardwood forests. Ecology 83:73–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Friedland AJ, Miller EK (1999) Major element cycling in a high-elevation Adirondack forest: patterns and changes, 1986–1996. Ecol Appl 9:958–967Google Scholar
  12. Gholz HL, Fisher RF, Pritchett WL (1985) Nutrient dynamics in slash pine plantation ecosystems. Ecology 66:647–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gorham E, Vitousek PM, Reiners WA (1979) The regulation of chemical budgets over the course of terrestrial ecosystem succession. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 10:53–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gundersen P (1998) Effects of enhanced nitrogen deposition in a spruce forest at Klosterhede, Denmark, examined by moderate NH4NO3 addition. For Ecol Manag 101:251–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Henderson GS, Swank WT, Waide JB, Grier CC (1978) Nutrient budgets of Appalachian and Cascade region watersheds: a comparison. For Sci 24:385–397Google Scholar
  16. Johnson DW, Henderson GS (1989) Terrestrial nutrient cycling. In: Johnson DW, Van Hook RI (eds) Analysis of biogeochemical cycling processes in Walker Branch Watershed. Springer, New York, pp 233–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnson DW, Turner J (2014) Nitrogen budgets of forest ecosystems: a review. For Ecol Manag 318:370–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Koopmans CJ, Tietema A, Boxman AW (1996) The fate of 15N enriched throughfall in two coniferous forest stands at different nitrogen deposition levels. Biogeochemistry 34:19–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Likens GE, Bormann FH, Pierce RS, Eaton JS, Johnson NM (1977) Biogeochemistry of a forested ecosystem. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Likens GE, Driscoll CT, Buso DC, Siccama TG, Johnson CE, Lovett GM, Fahey TJ, Reiners WA, Ryan DF, Martin CW, Bailey SW (1998) The biogeochemistry of calcium at Hubbard Brook. Biogeochemistry 41:89–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Likens GE, Driscoll CT, Buso DC, Mitchell MJ, Lovett GM, Bailey SW, Siccama TG, Reiners WA, Alewell C (2002) The biogeochemistry of sulfur at Hubbard Brook. Biogeochemistry 60:235–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Odum EP (1969) The strategy of ecosystem development. Science 164:262–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Paces T (1985) Sources of acidification in central Europe estimated from elemental budgets in small basins. Nature 315:31–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schlesinger WH (1991 and 1997) Biogeochemistry – an analysis of global change. Academic Press, New York, 443 pGoogle Scholar
  25. Sollins P, Grier CC, McCorison FM, Cromack K, Fogel R, Fredriksen RL (1980) The internal element cycles of an old-growth Douglas-fir ecosystem in western Oregon. Ecol Monogr 50:261–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Switzer GL, Nelson LE (1972) Nutrient accumulation and cycling in loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) plantation ecosystems: the first twenty years. Soil Sci Soc Am J 36:143–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Vitousek PM, Reiners WA (1975) Ecosystem succession and nutrient retention: a hypothesis. Bioscience 25:376–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Vitousek PM, Aber JD, Howarth RW, Likens GE, Matson PA, Schindler DW, Schlesinger WH, Tilman DG (1997) Human alteration of the global nitrogen cycle: sources and consequences. Ecol Appl 7:737–750Google Scholar
  29. Woodwell GM (1974a) Success, succession, and Adam Smith. Bioscience 24:81–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Woodwell GM (1974b) Variation in the nutrient content of leaves of Quercus alba, Quercus coccinea, and Pinus rigida in the Brookhaven Forest from bud-break to abscission. Am J Bot 61:749–753CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zhang W, Swaney DP, Hong B, Howarth RW, Han H, Li X (2015) Net anthropogenic phosphorus inputs and riverine phosphorus fluxes in highly populated headwater watersheds in China. Biogeochemistry 126:269–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher S. Cronan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biology and EcologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA

Personalised recommendations