Besides studying sources of sediment and nutrient discharges, SERC scientists have studied the potential abilities of certain ecosystems to intercept and trap discharged pollutants before they reach aquatic systems. SERC studies were among the first to show the potential of streamside or riparian forests to remove sediments and nutrients from watershed discharges. Knowledge of the benefits of riparian forests has led to widespread efforts to restore riparian buffers throughout the United States. Other SERC studies have demonstrated the value of natural and restored wetlands in protecting water quality. Such research helps guide efforts to protect water quality by preserving or restoring wetlands.

Dr. Thomas Jordan inspects an automated monitor that records flow and samples water flowing in and out of the restored wetland in the background. The wetland removes nutrients from the runoff it receives from the cornfields in the distance
A wetland restored in an agricultural watershed. We have measured the ability of such wetlands to remove sediments and nutrients from watershed discharges.

A SERC intern samples groundwater from wells in a transect through a streamside forest. Nitrate is removed from the groundwater as it flows from an adjacent cornfield through the riparian forest toward the stream.

Studies of forested wetlands in the Nanticoke River watershed measured the potential of wetlands to convert dissolved forms of nitrogen to gases. Here a SERC technician installs a chamber over the soil surface to measure emission of nitrous oxide.


Read an abstract of the paper: Nutrient and Sediment Removal by a Restored Wetland Receiving Agricultural Runoff
Read and abstract of the paper: Comparing Functional Assessments and Measurements of Nitrogen Processing in Wetlands