The behavior of dissolved and particulate components of stream nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) were measured for 2 years in a small mountainous watershed covered primarily with a plantation forest of Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa). The load of dissolved N and P bore a consistent relationship to discharge while the load of particulate N and P varied by up to two orders of magnitude at a given discharge level. Most N was exported in a dissolved form (DN) while most P was exported in a particulate form (PP), which bears similarity to loads from agricultural watersheds. Owing to the different behaviors of DN and PP, changes in the total nitrogen (TN) load were primarily attributed to variations in discharge unlike changes in the total phosphorus (TP) load. High flow conditions, resulting from heavy rainfall, displayed PP release significantly larger than expected. The TP load in high flow conditions was severely underestimated using a regression equation expressed as a function of discharge, which was based on the weekly sampling data biased toward low flow conditions. In addition, the TN load during peak discharges in heavy rain events was underestimated by the regression equation because of unpredictable increases in the particulate component. Our study shows that the particulate component ratio determines whether discharge can explain changes in load regardless of chemical species. The results suggest that plantation forests in rainy regions can be a diffuse source of particulate nutrients depending on soil surface conditions.
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