Quantifying In-Stream Processes on Phosphorus Export Using an Empirical Approach


In-stream nutrient release and retention control the timing and quantity of export at the watershed outlet by mobilization and transport of phosphorus (P) sources from land to the channel, and remobilization of transient stores of P from stream beds. We investigated the significance of stream processes in regulating P loading to the Cannonsville watershed, NY, USA. A mass balance of estimated P inputs to the stream with observed P export at the watershed outlet was used to quantify P delivery and explore the behavior of P. Stream channel transport of both dissolved and particulate P is found to be non-conservative, with dissolved P being retained during low flows and particulate P released during high flows. The results suggest that differences in the magnitude and relative importance of in-stream biogeochemical processes under different flow regimes regulate P delivery in ways that may influence ecological impacts to downstream river reaches and reservoirs.

Share and Cite:

Pradhanang, S. , Mukundan, R. , Zion, M. , Schneiderman, E. , Pierson, D. and Steenhuis, T. (2014) Quantifying In-Stream Processes on Phosphorus Export Using an Empirical Approach. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 120-131. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.62017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] E. M. Schneiderman, D. C. Pierson, D. G. Lounsbury and M. S. Zion, “Modeling the hydrochemistry of the Cannonsville watershed with generalized watershed loading function (GWLF),” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol. 38, No. 5, 2002, pp. 1323-1374.
[2] A. N. Sharpley, P. J. A. Kleinman, P. Jordan, L. Bergstrom and A. L. Allen, “Evaluating the Success of Phosphorus Management from Field to Watershed,” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 38, No. 5, 2009, pp. 1981-1988. http://dx.doi.org/10.2134/jeq2008.0056
[3] L. M. Svendsen and B. Kronvang, “Retention of Nitrogen and Phosphorus in a Danish Lowland River System: Implications for the Export from the Watershed,” Hydrobiologia, Vol. 25, No. 1352, 1993, pp. 123-135.
[4] E. Wit and J. McClure, “Statistics for Microarrays: Design, Analysis, and Inference,” 5th Edition, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Chichester, 2004.
[5] M. J. Bowes, W. A. House and R. A. Hodgkinson, “Phosphorus Dynamics along a River Continuum,” Science of the Total Environment Vol. 313, No. 1-3, 2003, pp. 199-212. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0048-9697(03)00260-2
[6] H. P. Jarvie, et al., “Quantifying Phosphorus Retention and Release in Rivers and Watersheds Using Extended End-Member Mixing Analysis (E-EMMA),” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 40, No. 2, 2011, 2010, pp. 492-504.
[7] R. Marcé and J. Armengol, “Modeling Nutrient In-Stream Processes at the Watershed Scale Using Nutrient Spiralling Metrics,” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussussion, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2009, pp. 501-533.
[8] J. L. Meyer, G. E. Likens, “Transport and Transformation of Phosphorus in a Forest Stream Ecosystem,” Ecology Vol. 60, No. 6, 1979, pp. 1255-1269.
[9] C. Hupp, A. Pierce and G. Noe, “Floodplain Geomorphic Processes and Environmental Impacts of Human Alteration along Coastal Plain Rivers, USA,” Wetlands, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2009, pp. 413-429.
[10] M. W. Doyle, E. H. Stanley, D. L. Strayer, R. B. Jacobson and J. C. Schmidt, “Effective Discharge Analysis of Ecological Processes in Streams,” Water Resources Research, Vol. 41, No. 11, 2005,Article ID: W11411.
[11] K. R. Reddy, R. H. Kadlec, E. Flaig and P. M. Gale, “Phosphorus Retention in Streams and Wetlands: A Review,” Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 29, No. 1, 1999, pp. 83-146.
[12] D. M. Cooper, W. A. House, L. May and B. Gannon, “The Phosphorus Budget of the Thame Catchment, Oxfordshire, UK: 1. Mass Balance,” Science of the Total, Vol. 282-283, 2002, pp. 233-251.
[13] L. May, W. A. House, M. Bowes and J. McEvoy, “Seasonal Export of Phosphorus from a Lowland Catchment: upper River Cherwell in Oxfordshire, England,” Science of The Total Environment, Vol. 269, No. 1-3, 2001, pp. 117-130. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0048-9697(00)00820-2
[14] G. A. Lamberti, S. V. Gregory, L. R. Ashkenas, R. C. Wildman and A. D. Steinman, “Influence of Channel Geomorphology on Retention of Dissolved and Particulate Matter in a Cascade Mountain Stream,” USDA Forest Service General Technical Reports, PSW-110, 1989.
[15] S. M. Pradhanang, et al., “Application of SWAT Model to Assess Snowpack Development and Streamflow in the Cannonsville Watershed, New York, USA,” Hydrological Processes, Vol. 25, No. 21, 2011, pp. 3268-3277.
[16] S. M. Pradhanang, et al., “Streamflow Responses to Climate Change: Analysis of Hydrologic Indicators in a New York City Water Supply Watershed,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol. 49, No. 6, 2013, pp. 1308-1326.
[17] J. G. Arnold and P. M. Allen, “Automated Methods for Estimating Baseflow and Ground Water Recharge from Streamflow Records,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol. 35, No. 2, 1999, pp. 411-424.
[18] C. Neal, et al., “Declines in Phosphorus Concentration in the Upper River Thames (UK): Links to Sewage Effluent Cleanup and Extended End-Member Mixing Analysis,” Science of The Total Environment, Vol. 408, No. 6, 2010, pp. 1315-1330.
[19] D. R. Helsel and R. M. Hirsch, “Statistical Methods in Water Resources,” Elsevier Science, 1992.
[20] H. P. Jarvie, E. Lycett, C. Neal and A. Love, “Patterns in Nutrient Concentrations and Biological Quality Indices across the Upper Thames River Basin, UK,” Science of The Total Environment Vol. 282-283, 2002, pp. 263-294.
[21] A. H. Johnson, D. R. Bouldin, E. A. Goyette and A. M. Hedges, “Phosphorus Loss by Stream Transport from a Rural Watershed: Quantities, Processes, and Sources,” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1976, pp. 148-157. http://dx.doi.org/10.2134/jeq1976.00472425000500020008x

Copyright © 2021 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.