, Volume 469, Issue 1–3, pp 11–21 | Cite as

Nitrate elimination by denitrification in hardwood forest soils of the Upper Rhine floodplain – correlation with redox potential and organic matter

  • Ingrid Brettar
  • José-Miguel Sanchez-Perez
  • Michèle Trémolières


Denitrification in floodplains is a major issue for river- and groundwater quality. In the Upper Rhine valley, floodplain forests are about to be restored to serve as flood retention areas (polders). Besides flood attenuation in downstream areas, improvement of water quality became recently a major goal for polder construction. Redox potential monitoring was suggested as a means to support assessment of nitrogen elimination in future floodplains by denitrification during controlled flooding. To elucidate the relationship between redox potential and denitrification, experiments with floodplain soils and in situ measurements were done. Floodplain soil of two depth profiles from a hardwood forest of the Upper Rhine valley was incubated anaerobically with continuous nitrate supply. Reduction of nitrate was followed and compared with redox potential and organic matter content. The redox potential under denitrifying conditions ranged from 10 to 300 mV. Redox potential values decreased with increasing nitrate reduction rates and increasing organic matter content. Furthermore, a narrow correlation between organic matter and nitrate reduction was observed. Experiments were intended to help interpreting redox potentials generated under in situ conditions as exemplified by in situ observations for the year 1999. Results obtained by experiments and in situ observations showed that monitoring of redox potential could support management of the flooding regime to optimize nitrogen retention by denitrification in future flood retention areas.

hardwood forest floodplain soil redox potential denitrification nitrate reduction Upper Rhine valley 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingrid Brettar
    • 1
  • José-Miguel Sanchez-Perez
    • 2
  • Michèle Trémolières
    • 3
  1. 1.Dept. Environmental MicrobiologyGBF – German Centre for BiotechnologyBraunschweigGermany
  2. 2.CESAC (UMR CNRS)Toulouse CédexFrance
  3. 3.Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Eco-Géographiques (CEREG) (UMR 7007 CNRS/ULP)StrasbourgFrance

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