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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Wetlands and Aquatic Processes

Nitrification and Denitrification Rates of Everglades Wetland Soils along a Phosphorus-Impacted Gradient


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 6, p. 2436-2443
    Received: Nov 7, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): jrwhite@ufl.edu
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  1. John R. White * and
  2. K. R. Reddy
  1. Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory, Soil and Water Science Department, Box 110510, 106 Newell Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611


Little information is available on the effect of phosphorus (P) enrichment on nitrogen (N) biogeochemical cycling in wetland soil. Of particular importance are the coupled nitrification–denitrification reactions that regulate the microbially mediated loss of N from wetland systems. Soils from the northern Florida Everglades have been affected by P loading from surface waters over the past 40 years. Elevated P levels have been show to have an effect on the size and activity of the microbial pool and a decrease in the N to P ratio of the microbial biomass. The objective of the study was to determine if P enrichment in soils affected microbial activities related to nitrification and denitrification in these flooded, peat soils. Potential nitrification rates of soil and detritus were determined using constantly stirred reactors under aerobic conditions while denitrification rates were determined from anaerobic incubations of slurry. Nitrification rates showed two distinct linear phases, a slower initial rate, signifying activity of nitrifiers present, followed by a sharp increase in the NH4 + conversion rate indicative of maximum potential rates. Initial rates of nitrification were highest in the surficial detrital layer decreasing with soil depth and did not correlate to soil total P. The potential rates of nitrification were 13 times greater than the initial rates. Potential denitrification rates were highest in the detritus and 0- to 10-cm soil interval with significantly lower values in the 10- to 30-cm soil interval, significantly correlated to total P of the soil. A significant (P < 0.01) relationship was seen between potential denitrification rates and soil total P suggesting an increased rate of N removal from P-enriched regions of the northern Everglades.

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