, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 271–293 | Cite as

Assessing hydrogeochemical heterogeneity in natural and constructed wetlands

  • Randy J. Hunt
  • David P. Krabbenhoft
  • Mary P. Anderson


While “water quality function” is cited as animportant wetland function to design for and preserve,we demonstrate that the scale at which hydrochemicalsamples are collected can significantly influenceinterpretations of biogeochemical processes inwetlands. Subsurface, chemical profiles for bothnutrients and major ions were determined at a site insouthwestern Wisconsin that contained areas of bothnatural and constructed wetlands. Sampling wasconducted on three different scales: (1) a large scale(3 m between sampling points), (2) an intermediatescale (0.15 m between sampling points), and (3) a smallscale (1.5 cm between sampling points). In mostcases, significant vertical heterogeneity was observedat the 0.15 m scale, which was much larger thanpreviously reported for freshwater wetlands and notdetected by sampling water table wells screened overthe same interval. However, profiles of ammonia andtotal phosphorus showed tenfold changes in the upper0.2 meters of the saturated zone when sampled at thesmall (1.5 cm) scale, that was not depicted bysampling at the intermediate scale. At theintermediate scale of observation, one constructedwetland site differed geochemically from the naturalwetlands and the other constructed wetland site due toapplication of off-site salvaged marsh surface anddownward infiltration of rain. While importantdifferences in dissolved inorganic phosphorus anddissolved inorganic carbon concentrations existedbetween the constructed wetland and the naturalwetlands, we also observed substantial differencesbetween the natural wetland sites for theseconstituents. A median-polishing analysis of our datashowed that temporal variations in constituentconcentrations within profiles, although extensivelyrecognized in the literature, were not as important asspatial variability.

geochemistry heterogeneity nutrients wetlands wetland restoration 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randy J. Hunt
    • 1
  • David P. Krabbenhoft
    • 1
  • Mary P. Anderson
    • 2
  1. 1.Water Resources DivisionU.S. Geological SurveyMadisonU.S.A
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey-WRDMiddletonU.S.A.

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