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Environ Sci Process Impacts. 2013 May;15(5):963-71. doi: 10.1039/c3em30808a.

Spatial-seasonal variation of soil denitrification under three riparian vegetation types around the Dianchi Lake in Yunnan, China.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southwest Forestry University, Bailongshi, Kunming, China.


Outbreaks of nuisance cyanobacterial bloom are predicted to occur frequently under the effect of severe eutrophication in the water body of Lake Dianchi since the 1990s. Riparian buffers are now well recognized for their roles in the removal of inorganic nitrogen mainly via denitrification. Little is known, however, about the mechanisms of nitrate removal in the riparian buffers of Lake Dianchi. We investigated the wet and dry seasonal dynamics of denitrification rate (DNR) in the soil profiles along the topographic gradient in three riparian buffers with different vegetation types (i.e. forest, open forest, and grass). A strong vertical pattern was observed in soil organic C and N concentrations (i.e. total N, DON, NO3-N, and NH4-N) along the soil layers. We also found significantly higher in situ denitrification activity in the upper horizon along each topohydrosequence while the activities of soil denitrification could be detected down to deeper soil horizons (0.1 to 0.8 mg N per kg dry soil per day), which may contribute significantly to the reduction of the ground water nitrate. Meanwhile, the DNR in the zones near the lake was significantly higher than that in zones near the border with the upland terrace, and also in the wet seasons than in dry seasons. Denitrification rates in the forest, open forest and grass sites were significantly different only in wet seasons. Especially, we found soil organic C had a strong correlation with denitrification in all sites, despite the large intersite variability of soil and vegetation. Our data suggested spatial heterogeneity of substrate availability along a hydrologic and topographic gradient can be the primary control on spatial-seasonal patterns of denitrification in riparian buffers.

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