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Association between phosphorus and suspended solids in an Everglades treatment wetland dominated by submersed aquatic vegetation

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Restoration of the Everglades requires reduction of total phosphorus (TP) in the influent run-off from the Everglades agricultural area (EAA). The Everglades nutrient removal project tested phosphorus (P) - removal efficiencies of several treatment wetland cells. The best TP reduction has occurred within the submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) - dominated treatment Cell 4. A significant proportion of the P reduction in Cell 4 over several years has been in the form of particulate P (PP). This study was conducted to (i) determine and compare the components of suspended solids in the Cell 4 influent and effluent waters, and (ii) investigate associations between PP and individual particulate components. Identification and quantification of components were accomplished using X-ray diffraction, thermogravimetry, scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive X-ray elemental analysis. The dominant particulate components in the Cell 4 water column are organic matter (OM), biogenic Si (predominantly diatom frustules), and calcite. Concentrations of PP, suspended solids, and particulate OM were greater at the Cell 4 inflow than at the outflow; consistent differences between particulate calcite in the influent vs. the effluent were not found. PP was positively correlated with particulate OM, but was not correlated with calcite. Data suggest that particulate OM, including microbial cells, plays an important role in P transport from the EAA. Possibly, a shift from planktonic to periphytic microbial distribution contributes to PP reduction. The importance of planktonic organisms as vectors of P in Everglades water warrants further study.

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Correspondence to W. Harris.

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Farve, M., Harris, W., Dierberg, F. et al. Association between phosphorus and suspended solids in an Everglades treatment wetland dominated by submersed aquatic vegetation. Wetlands Ecol Manage 12, 365–375 (2004).

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Key words

  • Constructed wetlands
  • Particulate phosphorus
  • Periphyton
  • Phosphorus removal
  • Plankton
  • Submersed macrophytes