|Title||The role of periphyton in phosphorus retention in shallow freshwater aquatic systems|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2003|
|Journal||Journal of Phycology|
|Keywords||eutrophication, microalgae, microphytobenthos, periphyton, phosphate, Phosphorus, tertiary treatment, water quality|
Eutrophication caused by phosphorus (P) leads to water quality problems in aquatic systems, particularly freshwaters, worldwide. Processing of nutrients in shallow habitats removes P from water naturally and periphyton influences P removal from the water column in flowing waters and wetlands. Periphyton plays several roles in removing P from the water column, including P uptake and deposition, filtering particulate P from the water, and attenuating flow, which decreases advective transport of particulate and dissolved P from sediments. Furthermore, periphyton photosynthesis locally increases pH by up to 1 unit, which can lead to increased precipitation of calcium phosphate, concurrent deposition of carbonate-phosphate complexes, and long-term burial of P. Actively photosynthesizing periphyton can cause super-saturated O2 concentrations near the sediment surface encouraging deposition of metal phosphates. However, anoxia associated with periphyton respiration at night may offset this effect. Linking the small-scale functional role of periphyton to ecosystem-level P retention will require more detailed studies in a variety of ecosystems or large mesocosms. A case study from the Everglades illustrates the importance of considering the role of periphyton in P removal from wetlands. In general, periphyton tends to increase P retention and deposition. In pilot-scale constructed periphyton-dominated wetlands in South Florida, about half of the inflowing total P was removed.