Montreal Researchers Find Watersheds’ Avg. Max Phosphorus Absorption

Oct 09 13:10 2018 Print This Article

A study led by researchers at Université de Montréal has quantified the maximum amount of phosphorus that can accumulate in a watershed before additional pollution is discharged into downriver ecosystems.

The calculated average threshold is 2.1 tonnes per square kilometre of land, the researchers estimated in their study, Low buffering capacity and slow recovery of anthropogenic phosphorus pollution in watersheds, published in Nature Geoscience. “Beyond this, further [phosphorus] inputs to watersheds cause a significant acceleration of [phosphorus] loss in runoff.”

This amount is shockingly low, said the researchers, given current nutrient application rates in most agricultural watersheds around the world, tipping points in some cases could be reached in less than a decade.

The study was led by Jean-Olivier Goyette, a doctoral student in biology at UdeM, and supervised by UdeM aquatic ecosystem ecologist Roxane Maranger, in collaboration with sustainability scientist Elena Bennett at McGill University.

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