, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 85–111 | Cite as

Spatial and Temporal Variability in Sediment Denitrification Within an Agriculturally Influenced Reservoir

  • Lareina G. Wall
  • Jennifer L. Tank
  • Todd V. Royer
  • Melody J. Bernot


Reservoirs are intrinsically linked to the rivers that feed them, creating a river–reservoir continuum in which water and sediment inputs are a function of the surrounding watershed land use. We examined the spatial and temporal variability of sediment denitrification rates by sampling longitudinally along an agriculturally influenced river–reservoir continuum monthly for 13 months. Sediment denitrification rates ranged from 0 to 63 μg N2O g ash free dry mass of sediments (AFDM)−1 h−1 or 0–2.7 μg N2O g dry mass of sediments (DM)−1 h−1 at reservoir sites, vs. 0–12 μg N2O gAFDM−1 h−1 or 0–0.27 μg N2O gDM−1 h−1 at riverine sites. Temporally, highest denitrification activity traveled through the reservoir from upper reservoir sites to the dam, following the load of high nitrate (NO 3 -N) water associated with spring runoff. Annual mean sediment denitrification rates at different reservoir sites were consistently higher than at riverine sites, yet significant relationships among theses sites differed when denitrification rates were expressed per gDM vs. per gAFDM. There was a significant positive relationship between sediment denitrification rates and NO 3 -N concentration up to a threshold of 0.88 mg NO 3 -N l−1, above which it appeared NO 3 -N was no longer limiting. Denitrification assays were amended seasonally with NO 3 -N and an organic carbon source (glucose) to determine nutrient limitation of sediment denitrification. While organic carbon never limited sediment denitrification, all sites were significantly limited by NO 3 -N during fall and winter when ambient NO 3 -N was low.


Agriculture Denitrification Nitrogen Reservoir River Sediments 



ash free dry mass


analysis of variance


American Public Health Association



chl a

chlorophyll a


coefficient of variation


dry mass


dissolved organic carbon














least-squared means


Lake Shelbyville, Illinois











N + C

nitrogen plus carbon


di-nitrogen gas


nitrous oxide








standard error


total dissolved nitrogen


total nitrogen


United States Environmental Protection Agency


United Stated Geologic Survey




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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lareina G. Wall
    • 1
  • Jennifer L. Tank
    • 1
  • Todd V. Royer
    • 2
  • Melody J. Bernot
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Notre DameNotre Dame
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesKent State UniversityKent

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