Catchment land use effects on fluxes and concentrations of organic and inorganic nitrogen in streams

E Vogt, CF Braban, U Dragosits, P Durand, MA Sutton, MR Theobald, RM Rees, C McDonald, S Murray, MF Billett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


We present annual downstream fluxes and spatial variation in concentrations of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (NH4 + and NO3 ) and dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) in two adjacent Scottish catchments with contrasting land use (agricultural grassland vs. semi-natural moorland). Inter- and intra-catchment variation in N species and the relation to spatial differences in agricultural land use were studied by determining catchment N input through agricultural activities at the field scale and atmospheric inputs at a 25 m grid resolution. The average agricultural N input of 52 kg N ha 1 yr 1 to the grassland catchment was more than 4 times higher than the input of 12 kg N ha 1 yr 1 to the moorland catchment, supplemented by 12.3 and 8.2 kg N ha 1 yr 1 through atmospheric deposition, respectively. The grassland catchment was associated with an annual downstream total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) flux of 14.4 kg N ha 1 yr 1, which was 66% higher than the flux of 8.7 kg ha 1 yr 1 from the moorland catchment. This difference was largely due to the NO3 flux being one order of magnitude higher in the grassland catchment. Dissolved organic N fluxes were similar for the two catchments (7.0 kg ha 1 yr 1) with DON contributing 49% to the TDN flux in the grassland compared with 81% in the moorland catchment. The results highlight the importance of diffuse agricultural N inputs to stream NO3 concentrations and the importance of quantifying all the major aquatic N species for developing a better understanding of N transformations and transport in the atmosphere-soil-water system. ã 2014 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320 - 332
Number of pages13
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Early online date31 Oct 2014
Publication statusPrint publication - Jan 2015

Bibliographical note



  • Catchment flux
  • Land use
  • Nitrogen
  • Organic nitrogen
  • Stream export


Dive into the research topics of 'Catchment land use effects on fluxes and concentrations of organic and inorganic nitrogen in streams'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this