Effects of aquatic vegetation type on denitrification
In a microcosm 15N enrichment experiment we tested the effect of floating vegetation (Lemna sp.) and submerged vegetation (Elodea nuttallii) on denitrification rates, and compared it to systems without macrophytes. Oxygen concentration, and thus photosynthesis, plays an important role in regulating denitrification rates and therefore the experiments were performed under dark as well as under light conditions. Denitrification rates differed widely between treatments, ranging from 2.8 to 20.9 μmol N m−2 h−1, and were strongly affected by the type of macrophytes present. These differences may be explained by the effects of macrophytes on oxygen conditions. Highest denitrification rates were observed under a closed mat of floating macrophytes where oxygen concentrations were low. In the light, denitrification was inhibited by oxygen from photosynthesis by submerged macrophytes, and by benthic algae in the systems without macrophytes. However, in microcosms with floating vegetation there was no effect of light, as the closed mat of floating plants caused permanently dark conditions in the water column. Nitrate removal was dominated by plant uptake rather than denitrification, and did not differ between systems with submerged or floating plants.