Thresholds of lake and reservoir connectivity in river networks control nitrogen removal

Noah M. Schmadel, Judson W. Harvey, Richard B. Alexander, Gregory E. Schwarz, Richard B. Moore, Ken Eng, Jesus D. Gomez-Velez, Elizabeth W. Boyer, Durelle Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Lakes, reservoirs, and other ponded waters are ubiquitous features of the aquatic landscape, yet their cumulative role in nitrogen removal in large river basins is often unclear. Here we use predictive modeling, together with comprehensive river water quality, land use, and hydrography datasets, to examine and explain the influences of more than 18,000 ponded waters on nitrogen removal through river networks of the Northeastern United States. Thresholds in pond density where ponded waters become important features to regional nitrogen removal are identified and shown to vary according to a ponded waters' relative size, network position, and degree of connectivity to the river network, which suggests worldwide importance of these new metrics. Consideration of the interacting physical and biological factors, along with thresholds in connectivity, reveal where, why, and how much ponded waters function differently than streams in removing nitrogen, what regional water quality outcomes may result, and in what capacity management strategies could most effectively achieve desired nitrogen loading reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2779
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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