pp 1–11 | Cite as

Relative Importance of Landscape Versus Local Wetland Characteristics for Estimating Wetland Denitrification Potential

  • Marc RussellEmail author
  • Richard Fulford
  • Kate Murphy
  • Charles Lane
  • James Harvey
  • Darrin Dantin
  • Federico Alvarez
  • Janet Nestlerode
  • Aaron Teague
  • Matthew Harwell
  • Alejandro Almario
Original Research


Wetlands can be significant sinks for Nr, via denitrification. There is a lack of understanding about factors controlling denitrification. Research suggests that hydrology, geomorphology, and nitrogen loading are dominant controls. We compared site-scale characteristics with denitrification enzyme activity (DEA) in wetlands along gradients of drainage basin land use to explore the relative importance of landscape and site-scale factors for determining denitrification potential. DEA rates ranged between 0.01–1.69 (μg N gdw−1 h−1), with most sites falling at the lower end. Sites with higher DEA rates had higher percentages of soil carbon and nitrogen, concentrations of soil extractable NO3 and percent loss on ignition. Sites with upstream agricultural activity had higher DEA rates than more natural sites, but there existed a wide range of DEA rates along both agricultural and urban land gradients. When multiple site and landscape-scale explanatory factors were compared to DEA rates, two site and one landscape scale characteristic (Soil NO3, Soil Percent N, and Percent Agriculture) had significant (p < 0.001, cum. r2 = 0.77) correlations with DEA rates. Our results suggest that DEA is controlled mainly by local-scale site characteristics with more work needed to determine the interdependencies and relative importance among these and potentially related landscape-scale factors.


Denitrification Wetlands Local scale Landscape scale 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© US Government 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Russell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard Fulford
    • 1
  • Kate Murphy
    • 1
  • Charles Lane
    • 2
  • James Harvey
    • 1
  • Darrin Dantin
    • 1
  • Federico Alvarez
    • 1
  • Janet Nestlerode
    • 1
  • Aaron Teague
    • 3
  • Matthew Harwell
    • 1
  • Alejandro Almario
    • 1
  1. 1.US EPA Gulf Ecology DivisionGulf BreezeUSA
  2. 2.US EPA Systems Exposure DivisionCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.San Antonio River AuthoritySan AntonioUSA

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