Data_Sheet_1_Modeling the Effect of Enhanced Lateral Connectivity on Nutrient Retention Capacity in Large River Floodplains: How Much Connected Floodp.docx (5.87 MB)

Data_Sheet_1_Modeling the Effect of Enhanced Lateral Connectivity on Nutrient Retention Capacity in Large River Floodplains: How Much Connected Floodplain Do We Need?.docx

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posted on 18.06.2020, 04:22 by Stephanie Natho, Martin Tschikof, Elisabeth Bondar-Kunze, Thomas Hein

Floodplains have been degraded in Central Europe for centuries, resulting in less dynamic and less diverse ecosystems than in the past. They provide essential ecosystem services like nutrient retention to improve overall water quality and thus fulfill naturally what EU legislation demands, but this service is impaired by reduced connectivity patterns. Along the second-longest river in Europe, the Danube, restoration measures have been carried out and are planned for the near future in the Austrian Danube Floodplain National Park in accordance with navigation purposes. We investigated nutrient retention capacity in seven currently differently connected side arms and the effects of proposed restoration measures using two complementary modeling approaches. We modeled nutrient retention capacity in two scenarios considering different hydrological conditions, as well as the consequences of planned restoration measures for side arm connectivity. With existing monitoring data on hydrology, nitrate, and total phosphorus concentrations for three side arms, we applied a statistical model and compared these results to a semi-empirical retention model. The latter was originally developed for larger scales, based on transferable causalities of retention processes and set up for this floodplain with publicly available data. Both model outcomes are in a comparable range for NO3-N (77–198 kg ha−1 yr−1) and TP (1.4–5.7 kg ha−1 yr−1) retention and agree in calculating higher retention in floodplains, where reconnection allows more frequent inundation events. However, the differences in the model results are significant for specific aspects especially during high flows, where the semi-empirical model complements the statistical model. On the other hand, the statistical model complements the semi-empirical model when taking into account nutrient retention at times of no connection between the remaining water bodies left in the floodplain. Overall, both models show clearly that nutrient retention in the Danube floodplains can be enhanced by restoring lateral hydrological reconnection and, for all planned measures, a positive effect on the overall water quality of the Danube River is expected. Still, a frequently hydrologically connected stretch of national park is insufficient to improve the water quality of the whole Upper Danube, and more functional floodplains are required.

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