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The spatial distribution of land use and associated nutrient inputs may influence the efficacy of in-stream nutrient removal; however, the effect of source location on N removal and watershed N export has not been quantified. We present the skewness index, a metric to quantify the spatial distribution of land use within watersheds. Using this index and a river network nitrogen removal model, we quantified the effect of varying the location of developed land use within two watersheds on nutrient removal and export. The quantity and location of developed land use as well as runoff affected nitrogen removal and export. Because river network nitrogen removal is bypassed when sources are skewed toward the watershed mouth, varying the location of land use alone can double aquatic nitrogen removal. Nutrient sources skewed toward the distant headwaters maximized in-stream removal which in turn can reduce watershed export.
Geophysical Research Letters
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
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Mineau, M. M., W. M. Wollheim, and R. J. Stewart (2015), An index to characterize the spatial distribution of land use within watersheds and implications for river network nutrient removal and export, Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, 6688–6695, https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2015GL064965
©2015. The Authors.