Benthic algal (Periphyton) growth rates in response to nitrogen and phosphorus: Parameter estimation for water quality models

Journal of the American Water Resources Association
By: , and 

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Abstract

Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are important pollutants that can stimulate nuisance blooms of algae. Water-quality models (e.g., WASP, CE-QUAL-R1, CE-QUAL-ICM, QUAL2k) are valuable and widely used management tools for algal accrual because of excess nutrients in the presence of other limiting factors. These models utilize the Monod and Droop equations to associate algal growth rate with dissolved nutrient concentration and intra-cellular nutrient concentration. Having accurate parameter values is essential to model performance; however, published values for model parameterization are limited, particularly for benthic (periphyton) algae. We conducted a 10-day mesocosm experiment and measured diatom-dominated periphyton biomass accrual through time as chlorophyll a (chl a) and ash-free dry mass (AFDM) in response to additions of N (range 5-12,390 µg NO3-N/L) and P (range 0.89-59.51 µg SRP/L). Resulting half saturation coefficients and growth rates are similar to other published values, but minimum intra-cellular nutrient concentration (quota, Qmin) are higher than those previously reported. Saturation concentration for N ranged from 150 to 2450 µg NO3-N/L based on chl a and from 8.5 to 60 µg NO3-N/L when based on AFDM. Similarly, the saturation concentration for P ranged from 12 to 29 µg-P/L based on chl a, and from 2.5 to 6.1 µg-P/L based on AFDM. These saturation concentrations provide an upper limit for streams where diatom growth can be expected to respond to nutrient levels and a benchmark for reducing nutrient concentrations to a point where benthic algal growth will be limited.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Benthic algal (Periphyton) growth rates in response to nitrogen and phosphorus: Parameter estimation for water quality models
Series title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
DOI 10.1111/1752-1688.12797
Volume 55
Issue 6
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Colorado Water Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 1479
Last page 1491