pp 1–15 | Cite as

Wetland Conditions Differentially Influence Nitrogen Processing within Waterfowl Impoundments

  • Brian R. Hinckley
  • J. Randall Etheridge
  • Ariane L. PeraltaEmail author
General Wetland Science


Manipulating hydrologic conditions at the land-water interface is critical for managing wetland functions. Hydrologic manipulation to increase retention time of water is used to promote wetland conditions, enhance nitrogen (N) processing for reduced N export, and attract migratory bird populations. Human managed wetlands such as waterfowl impoundments are intended to attract waterfowl for tourism. The limited literature has shown that waterfowl impoundments export N during seasonally prescribed drawdowns; however, it is unknown how impoundment-specific characteristics and different types of impoundments influence N cycling transformations. We compared seasonal N cycling between and within moist-soil managed (MSM) and agricultural (Ag) waterfowl impoundment soils. Potential nitrification, denitrification, and N mineralization rates and soil physicochemical properties were analyzed. Potential nitrification and denitrification rates were higher in the Ag compared to MSM impoundment even when the MSM site is actively managed to promote wetland conditions year-round. Despite the higher soil organic carbon and soil moisture content at MSM compared to Ag site, the high extractable soil ammonium, low nitrate, and low nitrification rates at MSM are evidence of substrate limitation for denitrification but not nitrification. These results indicate that decoupling of nitrification and denitrification could explain the reduced N removal capacity in these managed wetlands.


Denitrification Hydrologic management Mineralization Nitrification 





dry mass

C:N ratio

carbon to nitrogen ratio


moist-soil managed








organic nitrogen


submerged aquatic vegetation



We thank Holly Whitmyer, Shawn Harbin, Morgan Randolph, Gina Bledsoe, Casey Eakins, and Luise Armstrong for laboratory and field assistance. We also thank M. McCoy, M. Piehler, and anonymous reviewers for constructive feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript. We acknowledge the Soil Science Laboratory at North Carolina State University and the Environmental Research Laboratory at East Carolina University for laboratory analyses. We extend gratitude to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and a local farmer for opportunity to use land for field sampling. This work was supported by East Carolina University.

Author Contributions

BRH, JRE, and ALP conceived and designed the research; BH collected and analyzed the data; BH wrote the manuscript; all authors performed field work and edited the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13157_2019_1246_MOESM1_ESM.docx (284 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 283 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.S301B Howell Science Complex, Department of BiologyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric SciencesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.RW-214 Rivers, Department of EngineeringCenter for Sustainable Energy and Environmental EngineeringGreenvilleUSA

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