Main content area

Inundation Influences on Bioavailability of Phosphorus in Managed Wetland Sediments in Agricultural Landscapes

Kröger, Robert, Lizotte, Richard E., Douglas Shields, F., Usborne, Elizabeth
Journal of environmental quality 2012 v.41 no.2 pp. 604
agricultural runoff, agricultural watersheds, bioavailability, environment, eutrophication, flooded conditions, nonpoint source pollution, nutrients, phosphorus, pollution load, sediments, watershed hydrology, wetlands, Mississippi
Agricultural runoff carries high nutrient loads to receiving waters, contributing to eutrophication. Managed wetlands can be used in integrated management efforts to intercept nutrients before they enter downstream aquatic systems, but detailed information regarding sorption and desorption of P by wetland sediments during typical inundation cycles is lacking. This study seeks to quantify and elucidate how inundation of wetland sediments affects bioavailability of P and contributions of P to downstream systems. A managed wetland cell in Tunica County, Mississippi was subjected to a simulated agricultural runoff event and was monitored for bioavailable phosphorus (water-extractable P [P], Fe-P, and Al-P) of wetland sediments and water level during the runoff event and for 130 d afterward. Inundation varied longitudinally within the wetland, with data supporting significant temporal relationships between inundation and P desorption. Concentrations of P were significantly higher at the site that exhibited variable hydroperiods (100 m) as compared with sites under consistent inundation. This suggests that sites that are inundated for longer periods of time desorb less P immediately to the environment than sites that have periodic or ephemeral inundation. Concentrations of iron oxalate and NaOH-P were significantly higher at the least inundated site as compared with all other sites (F = 5.43; = 0.001) irrespective of time. These results support the hypothesis that increased hydraulic residence time decreases the bioavailability of P in wetland sediments receiving agricultural runoff. This finding suggests that the restoration of wetlands in the mid-southern United States may be hydrologically managed to improve P retention.