Mechanisms Controlling Phosphorus Retention Capacity in Freshwater Wetlands

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Science  21 Jun 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4706, pp. 1424-1427
DOI: 10.1126/science.228.4706.1424


Freshwater wetland ecosystems do not effectively conserve phosphorus in the way that terrestrial ecosystems do. The phosphorus retention capacity varies greatly among bogs, fens, and swamps and is concomitant with the amorphous acid oxalate-extractable aluminum and iron content in the soil. However, the phosphorus adsorption potential in wetland ecosystems may be predicted solely from the extractable aluminum content of the soil. Wetlands tested as wastewater filtration systems became phosphorus-saturated in a few years, with the export of excessive quantities of phosphate.