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Project Title:

Eutrophication hotspots resulting from biogeochemical transformations and bioavailability of phosphorus in the fluvial suspended sediment of geologically contrasting agricultural catchments

Project Coordinator:

Laurence Gill

Project Abstract

This project is part of a wider European project which endeavours to address the current lack of understanding with regards to which P fractions within fluvial and stream bed sediments are more bioavailable and therefore degrade water quality; with the focus specifically on the effect of organic P and humic-metal P complex pools from fluvial sediments. Concurrently, a predictive understanding of biogeochemical transformations and fluxes of fluvial and streambed sediment bound P will be developed which can then feed into predictive biogeochemical hydro-sedimentary models for catchment water quality. This lack of data currently represents a major obstacle to the design and implementation of integrated water resource management of agricultural river catchments. TCD’s contribution to this research - by the collection of sediment samples in different catchments under varying hydrological conditions, their analysis using novel techniques, controlled laboratory experiments and collaborative inputs into the development of numerical models - will contribute directly to all of the following objectives:

• Delineate the role of fluvial sediments on the delivery of bioactive P from agricultural catchments to downstream aquatic and flood plain systems, with an emphasis on the macronutrient organic P.

• Investigate the seasonal variation in inorganic (humic-metal P complexes) and organic P content (monoesters, di-esters, peptide, DNA etc.) in the fluvial suspended sediments between contrasting agricultural catchments.

• Advance the mechanistic and predictive understanding of the biogeochemical interactions and fluxes between fluvial and streambed bound P, particularly in the context of agricultural-induced land use changes.

• Identify likely sources of sediment associated organic P using radiometric finger-printing techniques to provide valuable information on organic P dynamics within agricultural catchments.

• Examine organic P flux across trophic transition in agricultural river bed sediment (by a chronology study to detect where eutrophication may have been detected). This will enable organic P repositories to be identified and their rates of degradation to be quantified.

• Examine seasonal, geomorphological and land-use effects on sediment bound organic P bio-availability for in-stream algal and weed vegetation growth in contrasting geological agricultural catchments.

• Develop the modelling capabilities for interpreting and predicting the effects of low flow and episodic flood events on the export of suspended and streambed sediment bound bioactive P from agricultural catchments.

Final Report:

Not available yet.