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Journal Articles PLoS ONE Year : 2017

Plant Litter Submergence Affects the Water Quality of a Constructed Wetland


Plant litter is an indispensable component of constructed wetlands, but how the submergence of plant litter affects their ecosystem functions and services, such as water purification, is still unclear. Moreover, it is also unclear whether the effects of plant litter submergence depend on other factors such as the duration of litter submergence, water source or litter species identity. Here we conducted a greenhouse experiment by submerging the litter of 7 wetland plant species into three types of water substrates and monitoring changes in water nutrient concentrations. Litter submergence affected water quality positively via decreasing the concentration of nitrate nitrogen and negatively via increasing the concentrations of total nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen and total phosphorus. The effects of litter submergence depended on the duration of litter submergence, the water source, the litter species identity, and the plant life form. Different plant species had different effects on the water nutrient concentrations during litter submergence, and the effects of floating plants might be more negative than that of emergent plants. These results are novel evidence of how the submergence of different plant (life form) litter may affect the purification function of constructed wetlands. For water at low eutrophication levels, submerging a relative small amount of plant litter might improve water quality, via benefiting the denitrification process in water. These findings emphasized the management of floating plant litter (a potential removal) during the maintenance of human-controlled wetland ecosystems and provided a potential tool to improve the water quality of constructed wetlands via submerging plant litter of different types.

Dates and versions

hal-02394100 , version 1 (04-12-2019)



Xu Pan, Yunmei Ping, Lijuan Cui, Wei Li, Xiaodong Zhang, et al.. Plant Litter Submergence Affects the Water Quality of a Constructed Wetland. PLoS ONE, 2017, 12 (1), pp.e0171019. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0171019⟩. ⟨hal-02394100⟩
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