Linking soil erosion to instream dissolved phosphorus cycling and periphyton growth
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Brennan, R.B. Scott, J.T.; Sharpley, A.N.; Lally, H.T.; Jarvie, H.P.; Bowes, M.J.; Haggard, B.E.; Gbur, E. (2017). Linking soil erosion to instream dissolved phosphorus cycling and periphyton growth. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association 53 (4), 809-821
Phosphorus (P) is a limiting nutrient in freshwater systems and when present in runoff from agricultural lands or urban centers may contribute to excessive periphyton growth. In this study, we examined the link between soil erosion and delivery of eroded soil to streams during flow events, and the impact of that freshly deposited soil on dissolved reactive P (DRP) concentrations and periphyton growth under baseflow conditions when the risk of stream eutrophication is greatest. A microcosm experiment was designed to simulate the release of P from soil which had been amended with different amounts of P fertilizer to overlying water during baseflow conditions. Unglazed tiles, inoculated for five days in a second order stream, were incubated for seven days in microcosms containing soil with eight levels of soil Mehlich-3 plant available phosphorus (M3P) ranging from 20 to 679mg/kg M3P. Microcosm DRP was monitored. Following incubation tiles were scraped and the periphyton analyzed for chlorophyll a. Microcosm DRP concentrations increased with increasing soil M3P and equilibrium phosphorus concentration (EPC0). Relationships between M3P, EPC0, and DRP were nonlinear and increases in soil M3P and/or DRP had a greater impact on biomass accumulation when these parameters were above threshold values of 30mg/kg M3P and 0.125mg/L DRP. Significantly, this ecological threshold corresponds to the agronomic thresholds above which increased soil M3P does not increase plant response.