Continental export of Si to the coastal zone is closely linked to the ocean carbon sink and to the dynamics of phytoplankton blooms in coastal ecosystems. Presently, however, the impact of human cultivation of the landscape on terrestrial Si fluxes remains unquantified and is not incorporated in models for terrestrial Si mobilization. In this paper, we show that land use is the most important controlling factor of Si mobilization in temperate European watersheds, with sustained cultivation (>250 years) of formerly forested areas leading to a twofold to threefold decrease in baseflow delivery of Si. This is a breakthrough in our understanding of the biogeochemical Si cycle: it shows that human cultivation of the landscape should be recognized as an important controlling factor of terrestrial Si fluxes.
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