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Shade and flow effects on ammonia retention in macrophyte-rich streams: implications for water quality

You are viewing information about the paper Shade and flow effects on ammonia retention in macrophyte-rich streams: implications for water quality.

Journal: Environ Pollut 2004/07/28
Published: 2004
Authors: Wilcock, R. J.;Scarsbrook, M. R.;Cooke, J. G.;Costley, K. J.;Nagels, J. W.
Address: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 11-115, Hamilton, New Zealand. r.wilcock@niwa.co.nz

Controlled releases of NH4-N and conservative tracers (Br- and Cl-) to five reaches of four streams with contrasting macrophyte communities have shown differing retentions, largely as a result of the way plants interact with stream flow and velocity. First-order constants (k) were 1.0-4.8 d(-1) and retention of NH4-N was 6-71% of amounts added to each reach. Distance travelled before a 50% reduction in concentration was achieved were 40-450 m in three streams under low-flow conditions, and 2400-3800 m at higher flows. Retention (%) of NH4-N can be approximated by a simple function of travel time and k, highlighting the importance of the relationship between macrophytes and stream velocity on nutrient processing. This finding has significant management implications, particularly with respect to restoration of riparian shade. Small streams with predominantly marginal emergent plants are likely to have improved retention of NH4-N as a result of shading or other means of reducing plant biomass. Streams dominated by submerged macrophytes will have impaired NH4-N retention if plant biomass is reduced because of reduced contact times between NH4-N molecules and reactive sites. In these conditions water resource managers should utilise riparian shading in concert with unshaded vegetated reaches to achieve a balance between enhanced in-stream habitat and nutrient processing capacity.

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