Title

Benthic fluxes of nitrogen in the tidal reaches of a turbid, high nitrate subtropical river

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Cook, PLM, Eyre, BD, Leeming, R & Butler, ECV 2004, 'Benthic fluxes of nitrogen in the tidal reaches of a turbid, high nitrate subtropical river', Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, vol. 59, no. 4, pp. 675-685.

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science journal home page available at http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecss

Publisher's version of article available a http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2003.11.011

Abstract

Benthic fluxes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (NO3- and NH4+), dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), N2 (denitrification), O2 and TCO2 were measured in the tidal reaches of the Bremer River, south east Queensland, Australia. Measurements were made at three sites during summer and winter. Fluxes of NO3- were generally directed into the sediments at rates of up to -225 µmol N m-2 h-1. NH4+ was mostly taken up by the sediments at rates of up to -52 µmol N m-2 h-1, its ultimate fate probably being denitrification. DON fluxes were not significant during winter. During summer, fluxes of DON were observed both into (-105 µmol m-2 h-1) and out of (39 µmol m-2 h-1) the sediments. Average N2 fluxes at all sampling sites were similar during summer (162 µmolN m-2 h-1) and winter (153 µmolN m-2 h-1). Denitrification was fed both by nitrification within the sediment and NO3- from the water column. Sediment respiration rates played an important role in the dynamics of nitrification and denitrification. NO3- fluxes were significantly related to TCO2 fluxes (p<0:01), with a release of NO3- from the sediment only occurring at respiration rates below 1000 µmol C m-2 h-1. Rates of denitrification increased with respiration up to TCO2 fluxes of 1000 µmol C m-2 h-1. At sediment respiration rates above 1000 µmol C m-2 h-1, denitrification rates increased less rapidly with respiration in winter and declined during summer. On a monthly basis denitrification removed about 9% of the total nitrogen and 16% of NO3- entering the Bremer River system from known point sources. This is a similar magnitude to that estimated in other tidal river systems and estuaries receiving similar nitrogen loads. During flood events the amount of NO3- denitrified dropped to about 6% of the total river NO3-load.