Relating phosphorus uptake to changes in transient storage and streambed sediment characteristics in headwater tributaries of Valley Creek, an urbanizing watershed

Robert J. Ryan*, Aaron I. Packman, Susan S. Kilham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Phosphorus uptake dynamics were examined in two small streams in the Valley Creek watershed, located in an urbanizing area approximately 30 km west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The goal of this research was to examine how phosphorus uptake is influenced by temporal changes in bed sediment characteristics and transient storage in streams within an urbanizing watershed. We conducted tracer studies with a conservative solute, observed phosphorus uptake in situ and in laboratory experiments, and measured fine bed sediment grain size distributions and chemical compositions at both sites. At the Morehall Rd. site, the total laboratory and in situ uptake rates were related to the silt-clay (d < 50 μm) content of the fine (d < 2 mm) bed sediment and the sediment phosphorus concentration. The in situ uptake rate was also related to the sediment magnesium content and the transient storage exchange rate and area. At the Sheldrake Rd. site, the phosphorus uptake rates observed in situ and in the laboratory were not significantly related to any of the measured stream or sediment characteristics. However, the areal average uptake (uptake flux), was related to the transient storage exchange rate. In addition, the abiotic contribution to in situ uptake was evaluated by comparing the in situ and laboratory measured uptake rates. The total abiotic in situ uptake rate was found to be related to the bed sediment silt-clay content and the transient storage residence time, while the abiotic uptake flux was related to the transient storage residence time. Overall, these urbanizing streams were less efficient at removing phosphorus from the water column than forested streams in non-urban settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-457
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume336
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 7 2007

Keywords

  • Phosphorus uptake
  • Sediment
  • Transient storage
  • Urban watershed
  • Valley Creek

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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