Modeling biotic uptake by periphyton and transient hyporrheic storage of nitrate in a natural stream

Water Resources Research
By: , and 



To a convection-dispersion hydrologic transport model we coupled a transient storage submodel (Bencala, 1984) and a biotic uptake submodel based on Michaelis-Menten kinetics (Kim et al., 1990). Our purpose was threefold: (1) to simulate nitrate retention in response to change in load in a third-order stream, (2) to differentiate biotic versus hydrologie factors in nitrate retention, and (3) to produce a research tool whose properties are consistent with laboratory and field observations. Hydrodynamic parameters were fitted from chloride concentration during a 20-day chloride-nitrate coinjection (Bencala, 1984), and biotic uptake kinetics were based on flume studies by Kim et al. (1990) and Triska et al. (1983). Nitrate concentration from the 20-day coinjection experiment served as a base for model validation. The complete transport retention model reasonably predicted the observed nitrate concentration. However, simulations which lacked either the transient storage submodel or the biotic uptake submodel poorly predicted the observed nitrate concentration. Model simulations indicated that transient storage in channel and hyporrheic interstices dominated nitrate retention within the first 24 hours, whereas biotic uptake dominated thereafter. A sawtooth function for Vmax ranging from 0.10 to 0.17 μg NO3-N s−1 gAFDM−1 (grams ash free dry mass) slightly underpredicted nitrate retention in simulations of 2–7 days. This result was reasonable since uptake by other nitrate-demanding processes were not included. The model demonstrated how ecosystem retention is an interaction between physical and biotic processes and supports the validity of coupling separate hydrodynamic and reactive submodels to established solute transport models in biological studies of fluvial ecosystems.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Modeling biotic uptake by periphyton and transient hyporrheic storage of nitrate in a natural stream
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/92WR01229
Volume 28
Issue 10
Year Published 1992
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 10 p.
First page 2743
Last page 2752
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Redwood National Park
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