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Denitrification in the nitrogen budget of a river ecosystem


Recent studies indicate that bacterial denitrification in anaerobic sediments may play a major part in removing nitrogen from water during river transport1,2. As this reaction reduces nitrate-N primarily to gaseous nitrogen, it represents a potentially significant pathway for the permanent removal of nitrogen from aquatic environments. However, no detailed assessments have been made of the quantitative importance of denitrification in relation to river nitrogen budgets. I have investigated this problem by studying the role of denitrification in relation to the nitrogen budget of Duffin Creek near Toronto, Ontario, and report here that the removal of nitrate-N by denitrification in the downstream reaches of the river represents 5–6% of the annual export of total nitrogen from this river basin.

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Hill, A. Denitrification in the nitrogen budget of a river ecosystem. Nature 281, 291–292 (1979).

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