Wilfred Wollheim, associate professor of natural resources and the environment, presents “Are Rivers the Livers of Watersheds? River Network Capacity to Remove Nutrient Pollution,” at the 2020 Farm, Forest, and Garden Expo.
Freshwater ecosystems provide many ecosystem services, such as removing nutrients like nitrogen, from a watershed. Freshwaters remove nitrogen through a process called denitrification. Key factors in how successfully freshwaters remove nitrogen include where pollutants enter a river network, amount of water flow, water temperature, and biological activity. In addition, reservoirs and lakes enhance this process, which raises management decisions regarding removing dams. Wollheim discusses these aspects of watershed management and how they need to be considered holistically at the watershed level.