Climate change will likely increase the growing season, temperatures, and ratio of nitrogen (N) to phosphorus (P) loss from land to water. However, it is unknown how these factors influence P concentrations in streams. We sought to evaluate differences in biotic and abiotic processes affecting stream sediment P dynamics under different temperature and N-enrichment regimes. Three sediments of varying P composition and sorption characteristics were placed into a fluvarium. Synthetic runoff water, with or without added N, was added to the flume's reservoir, and the solution was maintained at 19 or 26°C. Water and sediment samples were taken with time since runoff was introduced. The rate and magnitude of P uptake by sediment was greater at 19°C compared with 26°C, and also when N was added compared with no N added. Analysis of sediment samples indicated that P uptake via abiotic processes was greater at 19 than at 26°C. The addition of N stimulated P uptake by the microbial biomass at 19°C, but microbial uptake was potentially inhibited at 26°C. Because microbial biomass is a temporary store of P, these data suggest that more P may be available with increasing temperatures during the growing season, especially under baseflow, implying that strategies to mitigate P losses from land to water should be strengthened to prevent potential water quality impairment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law