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Using chemical, microbial and fluorescence techniques to understand contaminant sources and pathways to wetlands in a conservation site

Rhymes, J.; Jones, L.; Lapworth, D.J.; White, D.; Fenner, N.; McDonald, J.E.; Perkins, T.L.. 2015 Using chemical, microbial and fluorescence techniques to understand contaminant sources and pathways to wetlands in a conservation site. Science of the Total Environment, 511. 703-710. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.12.085

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Abstract/Summary

Nutrients and faecal contaminants can enter wetland systems in a number of ways, with both biological and potentially human-health implications. In this study we used a combination of inorganic chemistry, dissolved organic matter (DOM) fluorescence and Escherichia coli and total coliform (TC) count techniques to study the sources and multiple pathways of contamination affecting a designated sand dune site of international conservation importance, surrounded by agricultural land. Analysis of stream samples, groundwater and dune slack wetlands revealed multiple input pathways. These included riverbank seepage, runoff events and percolation of nutrients from adjacent pasture into the groundwater, as well as some on-site sources. The combined techniques showed that off-site nutrient inputs into the sand dune system were primarily from fertilisers, revealed by high nitrate concentrations, and relatively low tryptophan-like fulvic-like ratios < 0.4 Raman units (R.U.). The E. coli and TC counts recorded across the site confirm a relatively minor source of bacterial and nutrient inputs from on-site grazers. Attenuation of the nutrient concentrations in streams, in groundwater and in run-off inputs occurs within the site, restoring healthier groundwater nutrient concentrations showing that contaminant filtration by the sand dunes provides a valuable ecosystem service. However, previous studies show that this input of nutrients has a clear adverse ecological impact.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.12.085
CEH Sections: Emmett
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: faecal indicator bacteria, dissolved organic matter fluorescence, water chemistry, groundwater, sand dunes, dune slacks, ecosystem service, GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Surface water interaction
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 27 Jan 2015 11:59 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/509507

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