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Streams remove significant amounts of nitrogen, preventing downstream 'dead zones'
Date:3/12/2008

tion that large-scale land conversion may negatively impact streams ability to effectively remove nitrogen from the watershed.

The study, which undertook a huge field campaign to investigate nitrogen uptake and denitrification in 72 streams that drain watersheds of varying land-use types in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, is the first continental-scale assessment of total denitrification in small streams. McDowell oversaw field sites in Puerto Rico and Potter, who at the time of the study was McDowells graduate student, worked in both Puerto Rico and Massachusetts.

The study is also unique in that it captures the entire denitrification process, measuring not only the production of nitrous oxide but also N2, a harmless gas that is prevalent in the Earths atmosphere.

Moving forward, McDowell notes that this study will inform the work of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), of which he and several other UNH researchers are a part. McDowell will undertake long-term experimental manipulations of streams, adding nutrients to streams in a controlled way.

He also notes that the breadth of this project will carry forward. Weve developed this network of stream ecologists, and we can now answer questions at the continental scale, he says.


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Contact: Beth Potier
beth.potier@unh.edu
603-862-1566
University of New Hampshire
Source:Eurekalert

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