Deforestation causes increased dissolved silicate losses in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest
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Globally significant increases in the riverine delivery of nutrients and suspended particulate matter have occurred with deforestation. We report here significant increases in streamwater transport of dissolved silicate (DSi) following experimental forest harvesting at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH, USA. The magnitude of the streamwater response varied with the type of disturbance with the highest DSi export fluxes occurring in the manipulations that left the most plant materials on the soil surface and disturbed the soil surface least. No measurable loss of amorphous silica (ASi) was detected from the soil profile; however, ASi was redistributed within the soil profile after forest disturbance. Mass-balance calculations demonstrate that some fraction of the DSi exported must come from dissolution of ASi and export as DSi. Land clearance and the development of agriculture may result in an enhanced flux of DSi coupled with enhanced erosion losses of ASi contained in phytoliths.