Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 186, Issue 1–4, pp 15–28 | Cite as

Spatial and Temporal Variability in Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen Fluxes at the Sediment–Water Interface in Lake Illawarra, Australia

  • Wenchuan Qu
  • R. J. Morrison
  • R. J. West
  • Chenwei Su


In this study, benthic flux measurements of inorganic nitrogen (i.e., \( {\text{NH}}^{ + }_{4} \), \( {\text{NO}}^{ - }_{2} \)  +  \( {\text{NO}}^{ - }_{3} \)) were made using a batch incubation system at different stations (i.e., shallow sandy macrophyte and unvegetated beds, and deep central mud) over four seasons in Lake Illawarra, NSW, Australia, to study the influence of different primary producers (i.e., seagrasses, microphytobenthos (MPB) and macroalgae) and/or different sediment types (i.e., sand or mud) on the benthic fluxes. In general, nutrient fluxes displayed typical diel variations, with lower flux out of sediments (release) or enhanced uptake by the sediment in the light, due to the photosynthetic activities of the plant-MPB-sediment community in Lake Illawarra during photosynthetic periods. A distinct seasonal pattern of inorganic-N fluxes was also observed (e.g., the marked difference between summers 2002 and 2003). This may be explained by the seasonal variations in the biomass and activity (growing or decay phases) of MPB, seagrass and macroalgae, which may influence their nutrient assimilation and alter the chemical conditions of surface sediments that influence the benthic geochemical processes and thus benthic nutrient fluxes. On an annual basis, unvegetated sediments displayed net DIN effluxes, while seagrass beds showed a net DIN uptake, and the highest DIN uptakes coincided with the largest standing crop of seagrass and/or macroalgae and the highest levels of benthic community production. This may be due to the enhanced denitrification and/or assimilation activity by rooted plants and macroalgae, and the effect is most efficient during periods of net growth (e.g., in Spring 2002).


Benthic Nitrogen Fluxes Sediment Lake Illawarra Estuary 



We are grateful to Jun He, Chinshen Zuang and You Wang for their assistance in the field. The work was supported by the Oceans and Coastal Research Centre (UOW) and the 2005 Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Awards. Thanks are also due to the Special Project of Chinese Limnology (KZ951-B1-205 and KZ951-A1-402).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenchuan Qu
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. J. Morrison
    • 2
  • R. J. West
    • 2
  • Chenwei Su
    • 3
  1. 1.Lake Sediment and Environment Research LaboratoryNanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Wollongong (UOW)WollongongAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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