Groundwater-transported dissolved organic nitrogen exports from coastal watersheds

Limnology and Oceanography
By: , and 

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Abstract

We analyzed groundwater-transported nitrogen (N) exports from 41 watershed segments that comprised 10 Cape Cod, Massachusetts watersheds to test the hypotheses that chemical form of N exports is related to land use and to length of flow paths through watersheds. In the absence of human habitation, these glacial outwash-plain watersheds exported largely dissolved organic N (DON) but at relatively low annual rate. Addition of people to watersheds increased rates of both total dissolved N (TDN) and DON export through groundwater. Percent of TDN as DON in groundwater was negatively related to path length of groundwater through aquifers, but %DON was not significantly related to population density on the watersheds. DON was often the dominant form of N exported from the watersheds, even at high population densities. Our results suggest that natural sources are not entirely responsible for organic N exports from watersheds, but, instead, a substantial portion of anthropogenic N introduced to watersheds is exported as DON. This finding is in disagreement with previous results, which suggest that anthropogenic N is exported from watersheds largely as NO 3- and that DON exported from watersheds is from natural sources.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Groundwater-transported dissolved organic nitrogen exports from coastal watersheds
Series title Limnology and Oceanography
DOI 10.4319/lo.2006.51.5.2248
Volume 51
Issue 5
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 2248
Last page 2261
Country United States
State Massachusetts
City Cape Cod