About Us | Help Videos | Contact Us | Subscriptions

Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Wetlands and Aquatic Processes

Mechanisms of Nutrient Attenuation in a Subsurface Flow Riparian Wetland


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 5, p. 1732-1737
    Received: Jan 31, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): racasey@towson.edu
Request Permissions

  1. Ryan E. Casey *a,
  2. M. D. Taylorb and
  3. Stephen J. Klaineb
  1. a Dep. of Chemistry, Environmental Science and Studies Program, Towson Univ., 8000 York Road, Towson, MD 21252
    b Dep. of Environmental Toxicology, Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC 29670


Riparian wetlands are transition zones between terrestrial and aquatic environments that have the potential to serve as nutrient filters for surface and ground water due to their topographic location. We investigated a riparian wetland that had been receiving intermittent inputs of NO 3 and PO3− 4 during storm runoff events to determine the mechanisms of nutrient attenuation in the wetland soils. Few studies have shown whether infrequent pulses of NO 3 are sufficient to maintain substantial denitrifying communities. Denitrification rates were highest at the upstream side of the wetland where nutrient-rich runoff first enters the wetland (17–58 μg N2O–N kg soil−1 h−1) and decreased further into the wetland. Carbon limitation for denitrification was minor in the wetland soils. Samples not amended with dextrose had 75% of the denitrification rate of samples with excess dextrose C. Phosphate sorption isotherms suggested that the wetland soils had a high capacity for P retention. The calculated soil PO3− 4 concentration that would yield an equilibrium aqueous PO3− 4 concentration of 0.05 mg P L−1 was found to be 100 times greater than the soil PO3− 4 concentration at the time of sampling. This indicated that the wetland could retain a large additional mass of PO3− 4 without increasing the dissolved PO3− 4 concentrations above USEPA recommended levels for lentic waters. These results demonstrated that denitrification can be substantial in systems receiving pulsed NO 3 inputs and that sorption could account for extensive PO3− 4 attenuation observed at this site.

  Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.

Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:1732–1737.