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John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis

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Thresholds of lake and reservoir connectivity in river networks control nitrogen removal

Working Group: River Corridor hot spots for biogeochemical processing: a continental scale synthesis

Noah M Schmadel (Branch of Regional Research, Eastern Region)
Judson W. Harvey (U.S. Geological Survey)
Richard B Alexander (U.S. Geological Survey)
Gregory E Schwarz (U.S. Geological Survey)
Richard B Moore (New Hampshire/Vermont Water Science Center)
Kenny Eng (U.S. Geological Survey)
Jesus D Gomez-Velez (USGS Branch of Regional Research, Central Region)
Elizabeth W Boyer (Penn State)
Durelle T Scott (Virginia Tech)

Publication Date: 2018

Title: Figure 2 - Cumulative proportion of total N removed annually by bonded waters...


Lakes, reservoirs, and other ponded waters are ubiquitous features of the aquatic landscape, yet their cumulative role in nitrogen removal in large river basins is often unclear. Here we use predictive modeling, together with comprehensive river water quality, land use, and hydrography datasets, to examine and explain the influences of more than 18,000 ponded waters on nitrogen removal through river networks of the Northeastern United States. Thresholds in pond density where ponded waters become important features to regional nitrogen removal are identified and shown to vary according to a ponded waters’ relative size, network position, and degree of connectivity to the river network, which suggests worldwide importance of these new metrics. Consideration of the interacting physical and biological factors, along with thresholds in connectivity, reveal where, why, and how much ponded waters function differently than streams in removing nitrogen, what regional water quality outcomes may result, and in what capacity management strategies could most effectively achieve desired nitrogen loading reduction.


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