Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 365–376 | Cite as

Influence of transient storage on stream nutrient uptake based on substrata manipulation

  • Alba Argerich
  • Eugènia Martí
  • Francesc Sabater
  • Roy Haggerty
  • Miquel Ribot
Research Article


Quantification of the transient storage zone (As) has become critical in stream biogeochemical studies addressed to examine factors controlling nutrient uptake. It is expected that higher As may enhance the interaction between nutrients and biota and thus, increase nutrient uptake. However, results from the literature are controversial. We hypothesized that besides of the size of As, the intrinsic physical and biological characteristics of stream structures that generate As are also relevant for nutrient uptake. We performed 24 additions of phosphate, ammonium, and chloride in four reaches of a man-made channel where we introduced three types of naturally colonized substrata packs (mud, sand and cobbles) to modify As. We estimated ammonium and phosphate uptake coefficients in both the main channel and As using a solute transport model (OTIS-P) and compared the results among reaches with different substrata types. The introduction of substrata packs decreased water velocity and increased As similarly among treatments. Nutrient uptake coefficients in the main channel were similar among reaches with different type substrata packs; however, nutrient uptake coefficients measured in As differed among them as well as the ratio between ammonium and phosphorus uptake coefficients in As, which were 1.6 in reaches with mud packs and 0.02 in reaches with sand or cobble packs. Results obtained in this study suggest that the contribution of As in nutrient uptake not only depends on the size of As but on the type of materials used to increase As, and thus, have biogeochemical implications on restoration projects aimed to modify channel morphology.


Nutrient cycling Transient storage Nutrient assimilation Ammonium Phosphorus Stream 



The authors would like to thank Daniel von Schiller and Simone Mariani for their comments and discussions on earlier drafts that helped to develop the paper, Rob Runkel for his help on the use of OTIS-P, and Susanna Pla for her laboratory assistance. Financial support was provided by the European Union through the EURO-LIMPACS project (ref. GOCE-CT-2003-505540,, by the Spanish Government through the NICON project (ref. CGL2005-07362-C02), and by the National Science Foundation (EAR 04-09534 and EAR 08-38338).


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alba Argerich
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eugènia Martí
    • 3
  • Francesc Sabater
    • 1
  • Roy Haggerty
    • 2
  • Miquel Ribot
    • 3
  1. 1.Departament d’EcologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Geosciences Department, 104 Wilkinson HallOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Limnology Group, Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasBlanesSpain

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