Stable isotopic composition of nitrate in Lake Taihu, China, and major inflow rivers

  • Amy Townsend-Small
  • Mark J. McCarthy
  • Jay A. Brandes
  • Longyuan Yang
  • Lu Zhang
  • Wayne S. Gardner
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 194)

Abstract

Identification of sources of nutrient pollution is a first step towards remediation of eutrophication in aquatic ecosystems. The stable isotope nitrogen-15 (15N) is a natural indicator of nitrogen (N) source and biogeochemistry. We sampled Lake Taihu, a hyper-eutrophic lake in eastern China, and major inflow rivers during winter and spring of 2004 to determine concentration and δ15N of nitrate (NO 3 - ). Nitrate concentrations in rivers and the lake were higher, in most cases, in spring than in winter. δ15N of NO 3 - was not correlated with NO 3 - concentration, indicating that concentrations alone are insufficient to describe N sources. Results show that riverine N inputs in winter are influenced by discharge of human sewage into rivers and the lake. In spring, however, wastewater inputs to the lake appear to be balanced by fertilizers, atmospheric, and/or N2 fixation sources. Rain NO 3 - concentrations were seasonally high and isotopically enriched compared to potential sources, indicating that rain may be a significant or even dominant source of N to the lake during the rainy season. δ15N values show that urbanized areas of the lake have more sewage-derived N than those areas dominated by agriculture, aquaculture, or industry. This observation has important implications for human health, since Lake Taihu is a source of drinking and irrigation water as well as fish for human consumption.

Keywords

Nitrate Nitrogen-15 Lake Taihu China Stable isotopes Eutrophication 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Townsend-Small
    • 1
  • Mark J. McCarthy
    • 1
  • Jay A. Brandes
    • 1
  • Longyuan Yang
    • 2
  • Lu Zhang
    • 2
  • Wayne S. Gardner
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Science InstituteThe University of Texas at AustinPort AransasUSA
  2. 2.Nanjing Institute of Limnology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina

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