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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 400 - Feature article
Salt marshes limit the amount of land-derived nitrogen carried by ebbing tides out to receiving coastal waters. Photo: Ivan Valiela

Brin LD, Valiela I, Goehringer D, Howes B


Nitrogen interception and export by experimental salt marsh plots exposed to chronic nutrient addition


Urbanization in coastal watersheds has increased land-derived nitrogen (N) loads to coastal systems worldwide, resulting in eutrophication and associated detrimental effects. Salt marshes located downstream of terrestrial sources of N often intercept these loads, limiting excessive export. Brin and colleagues revisited a 1970s study that showed high nutrient interception by experimentally enriched salt marsh plots. These plots have continued to receive N additions every growing season since 1970. New estimates of tidal export of dissolved N from the salt marsh plots show that, despite the high N inputs, interception of added N is remarkably high, even after >3 decades of external N addition.


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