Down the Drain: Wetlands as Sinks for Absorbing Reactive Nitrogen

Read the full story in Science Matters.

Duck hunters and those who fish, both recreationally and commercially, are already well acquainted with the value of wetlands. The economic benefits alone include providing essential habitat to some 75 percent of the fish and shellfish that are commercially harvested in the U.S. On top of that, wetlands absorb storm runoff, help prevent flooding, and naturally filter water.

EPA researchers are working to quantify another important value of wetlands: the ability to act as natural sinks that absorb “reactive” nitrogen (Nr). While perhaps not as obvious as providing sought-after recreational destinations or habitat for valuable fisheries, wetlands’ natural ability to absorb nitrogen released into the environment can be just as important.

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