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Title: Biogeochemical and Hydrological Variables Synergistically Influence Nitrate Variability in Coastal Deltaic Wetlands

Coastal river deltas are centers of surface water nitrate processing, yet the mechanisms controlling spatio‐temporal patterns in nutrient variability are still little understood. Nitrate fluctuations in these systems are controlled by complex interactions between hydrological and biogeochemical drivers, which act together to transport and transform inorganic nutrients. Distinguishing the contributions of these drivers and identifying wetland zones where nitrate processing is occurring can be difficult, yet is critical to make assessments of nutrient removal capacity in deltaic wetlands. To address these issues, we analyze relationships among regional “external” (river discharge, tides, wind) and local “internal” (water level, temperature, turbidity, and nitrate) variables in a deltaic wetland in coastal Louisiana by coupling a process connectivity framework with information theory measures. We classify variable interactions according to whether they work uniquely, redundantly, or synergistically to influence nitrate dynamics and identify timescales of interaction. We find that external drivers work together to influence nitrate transport. Patterns of hydrological and sediment connectivity change over time due to tidal flushing and discharge variation. This connectivity influences the emergence of functional zones where local nitrate fluctuations and temperature and water level process couplings are strong controls on nitrate variability. High vegetation density decreases hydrological process connectivity, even during periods of high river discharge, but it also increases biogeochemical process connections, due to the lengthening of the hydraulic residence time. Based on these results we make recommendations for monitoring nitrate in a wetland.

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DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
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Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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