Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 217–223 | Cite as

Nitrogen and oxygen isotopic compositions of water-soluble nitrate in Taihu Lake water system, China: implication for nitrate sources and biogeochemical process

  • Zi-Xiang Chen
  • Lei Yu
  • Wei-Guo Liu
  • Michael H. W. Lam
  • Gui-Jian Liu
  • Xue-Bin YinEmail author
Original Article


The stable isotope nitrogen-15 (15N) is a robust indicator of nitrogen (N) source, and the joint use of δ15N and δ18O–NO3 values can provide more useful information about nitrate source discrimination and N cycle process. The δ15N and δ18O–NO3 values, as well as major ion tracers, from Taihu Lake in east China were investigated to identify the primary nitrate sources and assess nitrate biogeochemical process in the present study. The results show that the nitrate concentration in West Taihu Lake (WTL) was generally higher than those in East Taihu Lake (ETL) and its upstream inflow rivers. The NO3 /Cl value combined with mapping of δ15N–NO3 and NO3 concentration suggest that the mixing process should play a major effect in WTL, and denitrification was the dominant N transformation process in WTL. A linear relationship of close to ~1: 2 was observed between δ15N–NO3 and δ18O–NO3 values in WTL, confirming the occurrence of denitrification in WTL. The δ15N–NO3 data imply that sewage and manure were the principal nitrate sources in WTL and its feeder rivers, while the nitrate in ETL might derive from soil organic nitrogen and atmospheric deposition. The δ18O–NO3 data indicate most of nitrate from microbial nitrification of organic nitrogen matter possibly make a significant contribution to the lake.


Denitrification Dual isotopes Nitrate source Nitrification Taihu lake 



The authors would like to thank Taihu Lake special funds of Jiangsu province for its financial support (BK2007736) and Foundation of Key Laboratory of Yangtze River Water Environment, Ministry of Education, China (YRWEF201002).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zi-Xiang Chen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Lei Yu
    • 5
  • Wei-Guo Liu
    • 2
  • Michael H. W. Lam
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gui-Jian Liu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Xue-Bin Yin
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Earth and Space ScienceUniversity of Science and Technology of China (USTC)HefeiChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, IEE, CASXi’anChina
  3. 3.Advanced Laboratory for Environmental Research and Technology, Joint Advanced Research Center, USTC-City USuzhouChina
  4. 4.Department of Biology and ChemistryCity University of Hong KongKowloonChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Soil Environment and Pollution Remediation, Institute of Soil Science, CASNanjingChina

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