Quantifying the influence of substrate heterogeneity on biofilm-mediated nutrient retention and anomalous transport patterns using experimental watersheds at ND-LEEF

  • Funded By: Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative
  • ECI Investigators: Diogo Bolster, Alan Hamlet, Jennifer Tank

Eutrophication of streams draining agricultural land and subsequent nutrient export to downstream water bodies is a major environmental challenge. In a changing climate withever-growing economy and population, understanding the potential of drainage structures as landscape filters and biological reactors is critical. Conventional transport models in streams/rivers focus heavily on flow rates; most flow occurs in the center of streams and models parameterize boundary effects, but neglect slow flow at the boundaries which is where many interesting and important biogeochemical transformations occur. Boundaries can be heterogeneous in terms of geomorphology and biogeochemistry. Thus transport is controlled by a broad range of spatio-temporal scales, which conventional models completely neglect.

This research at ND-LEEF expanded the current understanding of interactions between substrate-driven flow patterns and biogeochemical efficiency thereby improving stream and watershed restoration and management designed to improve nutrient retention along drainage networks that include lentic landscape features (e.g., ponds and wetlands).

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