Spatio-temporal variation of throughfall in a hyrcanian plain forest stand in Northern Iran

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Abstract

Elucidating segregation of precipitation in different components in forest stands is important for proper forest ecosystems management. However, there is a lack of information on important rainfall components viz. throughfall, interception and stemflow in forest watersheds particularly in developing countries. We therefore investigated the spatiotemporal variation of important component of throughfall for a forest stand in a Hyrcanian plain forest in Noor City, northern Iran. The study area contained five species of Quercus castaneifolia, Carpinus betulus, Populus caspica and Parrotia persica. The research was conducted from July 2013 to July 2014 using a systematic sampling method. Ninetysix throughfall collectors were installed in a 3.5 m × 3.5 m grid cells. The canopy covers during the growing/leaf-on (i.e., from May to November) and non-growing/leaf-off (i.e., from December to March) seasons were approximately 41% and 81%, respectively. The mean cumulative throughfall during the study period was 623±31 mm. The average throughfall (TF) as % of rainfall (TFPR) during leaf-on and leaf-off periods were calculated 56±14% and 77±10%, respectively. TF was significantly (R2 = 0.97, p = 0.00006) correlated with gross precipitation. Percent of canopy cover was not correlated with TF except when gross precipitation was <30 mm. A comparison between leaf-off and leaf-on conditions indicated a significantly higher TFPR and corresponding hotspots during leaf-on period. TFPR also differed between seasons with a maximum amount in winter (82%). The results of the study can be effectively used by forest watershed managers for better perception of hydrological behavior of the Hyrcanian forest in the north of Iran under different silvicultural circumstances leading to getting better ecosystem services.

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