, Volume 160, Issue 2, pp 111–122

Factors influencing nitrate depletion in a rural stream

  • Alan R. Hill

DOI: 10.1007/BF00015474

Cite this article as:
Hill, A.R. Hydrobiologia (1988) 160: 111. doi:10.1007/BF00015474


A mass balance procedure was used to analyze rates of nitrate depletion in three adjacent reaches of West Duffin Creek, Ontario, Canada. Daily nitrate losses in individual reaches were highly variable (0.5–24 kg N) during low and moderate stream flows in May–October, 1982–1985. Nitrate removal efficiency (nitrate loss as a % of nitrate input) showed a rapid exponential decline with increased nitrate inputs to each reach. Nitrate losses and nitrate removal efficiency also had a significant negative correlation with stream discharge. The association of large nitrate loads with high stream discharge reduced the nitrate removal capacity of the stream because of shorter residence times and a higher ratio of water volume to stream bed area. Water temperature exhibited a significant positive correlation with nitrate loss which may reflect increased denitrification at higher temperatures.

Variations in nitrate losses and nitrate removal efficiency between the three reaches were highly influenced by differences in water residence time. Standarized nitrate losses with respect to water residence time revealed a longitudinal decline in nitrate depletion between the reaches which was associated with a downstream decrease in stream nitrate concentration and in the organic carbon content of fine textured sediments from pool habitats.

Key words

denitrificationmass balancenitrogenstreamswater residence timewater temperature

Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan R. Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyYork University TorontoOntarioCanada