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Effects of macrophytes on ecosystem metabolism and net nutrient uptake in a groundwater fed lowland river

Journal Contribution - e-publication

Transport and transformation of inorganic nutrients are influenced by abiotic-biotic interactions and determine downstream water quality. Macrophytes play an important role in these complex ecological interactions. The role of macrophytes was studied in three reaches of the groundwater-fed, oligotrophic River Fischa with different macrophyte coverage and biomass. This was done by measuring metabolism and calculating changes in nutrient loading and concentrations, which were determined via an upstream-downstream mass balance approach. As the dominant autotrophs, we expected macrophytes (i) to have a direct effect by uptake and release, and (ii) an indirect effect by slowing down flow, which results in changed sedimentation patterns and altered conditions for heterotrophic microbial organisms implicating higher turnover and uptake rates. The seasonal development of macrophytes in 2017 had a strong impact on gross primary production, but not on ecosystem respiration. Increase in macrophyte biomass led to higher GPP (max. 5.4 g O(2)m(-2)d(-1)). ER was highest in autumn in the reach with intermediate macrophyte biomass (max. 10.1 g O(2)m(-2)d(-1)). We observed that the autotrophic uptake of phosphorus accounted for 80-145% of the P-PO4-flux and concluded that P-uptake by macrophytes from the sediment is an important source of phosphate for macrophytes in the river. By accumulating fine sediment, macrophytes are improving the availability of phosphate for their own long-term development. N-NO3, represented >99% of the nitrogen flux. N-NO3 net uptake was higher in the reaches with more macrophytes (0.84 vs. 0.12 g m(-2)d(-1)), but in average only 21% of the net uptake could be related to autotrophic nitrogen uptake in the reach with high macrophyte biomass. Dissimilatory uptake by heterotrophic organisms, most probably denitrification, were of high relevance. Macrophytes supported microbial uptake and release by improving conditions and slowing down flow. In the River Fischa, an oligotrophic river with low variability of environmental parameters, macrophytes greatly affected nutrient uptake by direct and indirect pathways. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Journal: The science of the total environment
ISSN: 0048-9697
Volume: 721
Number of pages: 13
Publication year:2020
Keywords:A1 Journal article