Nitrogen removal by tropical floodplain wetlands through denitrification Academic Article uri icon


  • Excess nitrogen (N) leading to the eutrophication of water and impacts on ecosystems is a serious environmental challenge. Wetlands can remove significant amounts of N from the water, primarily through the process of denitrification. Most of our knowledge on wetland denitrification is from temperate climates; studies in natural tropical wetlands are very scarce. We measured denitrification rates during a dry and a wet season in five floodplain forests dominated by Melaleuca spp., a coastal freshwater wetland of tropical Australia. We hypothesised that the denitrification potential of these wetlands would be high throughout the year and would be limited by N and carbon (C) availability. Mean potential denitrification rates (Dt) were 5.0±1.7mgm2h–1, and were within the reported ranges for other tropical and temperate wetlands. The rates of Dt were similar between the dry and the wet seasons. From the total unamended denitrification rates (Dw, 3.1±1.7mgm2h–1), 64% was derived from NO3– of the water column and the rest from coupled nitrification–denitrification. The factor most closely associated with denitrification was background water NO3–-N concentrations. Improved management and protection of wetlands could play an important role in improving water quality in tropical catchments.


  • Adame, MF
  • Franklin, H
  • Waltham, NJ
  • Rodriguez, S
  • Kavehei, E
  • Turschwell, MP
  • Balcombe, Stephen R
  • Kaniewska, P
  • Burford, MA
  • Ronan, M

publication date

  • 2019