, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 195–212

Nitrogen mass balances and denitrification rates in central Ontario Lakes

  • Lewis A. Molot
  • Peter J. Dillon


Nitrogen mass balances for seven unproductive lakes and 20 forested catchments in central Ontario were measured between 1977 and 1989. Average annual lake denitrification rates calculated with the N/P ratio method were strongly correlated with summer anoxic factor (extent of surficial sediment anoxia) whereas denitrification rates calculated with a210Pb sediment N accumulation method were poorly correlated with the anoxic factor suggesting that the N/P method is superior. Substantial denitrification occurred in all lakes — an average of 36% of TN inputs or 75% of the net gain. On a regional area-weighted basis, 67% of bulk atmospheric TN deposition was stored or denitrified terrestrially, 12% was denitrified in lakes, 4% was stored in lake sediments, and 17% was exported from lakes. N/P ratios were generally less in streams than in precipitation suggesting preferential N retention in catchments, whereas the N/P ratios in lake outputs were slightly higher than lake input ratios, suggesting preferential P retention in lakes. This is consistent with the notion that P-limited lakes can exist adjacent to N-limited forests.

Key words

denitrification lake mass balance nitrogen 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lewis A. Molot
    • 1
  • Peter J. Dillon
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental StudiesYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Dorset Research CentreOntario Ministry of Environment and EnergyDorsetCanada

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