Effects of variable hydroperiods and water level fluctuations on denitrification capacity, nitrate removal, and benthic-microbial community structure in constructed wetlands

Cari K. Ishida, John J. Kelly, Kimberly A. Gray*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

The hydrologic character of wetlands is one of the attributes by which they are defined. There are, however, conflicting reports about the detrimental versus beneficial responses of wetland systems to water level fluctuations and variable hydroperiods. We conducted water level and hydroperiod fluctuation studies in full-scale experimental wetlands in order to determine the effects of hydraulic operation on wetland performance (in terms of nutrient removal), and benthic-bacterial community function (in terms of denitrification potential, DNP) and structure (via terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms, T-RFLP). In our comparison, detention time was the controlling factor for nitrate removal at the system level. However, widely fluctuating water levels and variable hydroperiods did not diminish either the nitrate removal capacity of the experimental wetlands, or the size or composition of benthic-bacterial communities relative to the more stable water level systems. Rather, significant differences in denitrification potential rates, bacterial cell densities, and benthic community structure were a function of sampling location within the experimental wetlands regardless of hydraulic operation. The results of this study support the need for reconsidering the hydraulic criteria for wetland delineation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-373
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Engineering
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 22 2006

Keywords

  • ANOSIM
  • Acetylene inhibition
  • Bacterial community structure
  • Denitrification
  • Hydroperiod variation
  • Multiple dimensional scaling
  • Nutrient removal
  • T-RFLP
  • Water level fluctuation
  • Wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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