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Phosphorus, nitrogen and dissolved organic carbon fluxes from sediments in freshwater rivermouths entering Green Bay (Lake Michigan; USA)

January 10, 2020

Transitional areas between ecosystem types are often active biogeochemically due to resource limitation changes. Lotic-to-lentic transitions in freshwaters appear active biogeochemically, but few studies have directly measured nutrient processing rates to assess whether processing within the rivermouth is important for load estimates or the local communities. We measured oxic fluxes of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from sediments in two rivermouths of Green Bay (Lake Michigan, USA). Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) flux was positive in most cases (overall mean 1.74 mg SRP m− 2 day− 1), as was ammonium (NH4) flux (40.6 mg NH4 m− 2 day− 1). Partial least square regression (PLSR) indicated a latent variable associated with both sediment [loosely bound phosphorus (P), iron bound P, organic content] and water column properties [temperature, DOC:dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and DOC:SRP ratios (negatively)] that was moderately associated with variation in SRP flux. PLSR analysis also indicated several sediment characteristics were moderately related to NH4 flux, especially organic content, density (negative), and porosity. Flux of nitrates/nitrites (NOX) and DOC were positively associated with the water column concentrations of NOX and DOC and qualitative estimates of the labile, non-humic types of DOC. In early summer, water column NOX and DOC concentrations were high and labile DOC may have fueled denitrification, resulting in net flux into sediments of both NOX and DOC. By late summer, water column NOX and DOC were very low and both these constituents were fluxing out of sediments into the water column. Based on our estimates for the entire period from April through September, rivermouth sediments were a net source of SRP and DIN, with a DIN:SRP ratio of ~ 44 and a NH4:NOX > 1. We estimated that the sediments in the Fox rivermouth probably contributed a small proportion of the total Fox River load during the growing season 2016 (< 5%), but at times may have contributed as much as 14% of the daily load. Despite the small size of the Fox rivermouth (< 0.5% of the watershed area), these results indicate that at times sediments can contribute substantially to the overall delivery of nitrogen and phosphorus to the nearshore zone.

Publication Year 2020
Title Phosphorus, nitrogen and dissolved organic carbon fluxes from sediments in freshwater rivermouths entering Green Bay (Lake Michigan; USA)
DOI 10.1007/s10533-020-00635-0
Authors James H. Larson, William F. James, Faith A. Fitzpatrick, Paul C. Frost, Mary Anne Evans, Paul C. Reneau, Marguerite A. Xenopoulos
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biogeochemistry
Index ID 70208357
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center; Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center