|Published in||Environmental Research Letters, v. 10(6):065007|
Bustamante, M.M.C., Martinelli, L.A., Pérez, T., Rasse, R., Ometto, J.P.H.B., Siqueira Pacheco, F., Machado Lins, S.R. and Marquina, S.
Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade de Brasília, 70919-970 Brasilia, DF, Brasil, CENA-Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Centenário 303, 13416-000 Piracicaba-SP, Brasil, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC), Centro de Ciencias Atmosféricas y Biogeoquímica (IVIC), Aptdo. 20632,
Urbanization and land use changes alter the nitrogen (N) cycle, with critical consequences for continental freshwater resources, coastal zones, and human health. Sewage and poor watershed
management lead to impoverishment of inland water resources and degradation of coastal zones. Here we review the N contents of rivers of the three most important watersheds in South America: the
Amazon, La Plata, and Orinoco basins. To evaluate potential impacts on coastal zones, we also present data on small- and medium-sized Venezuelan watersheds that drain into the Caribbean Sea and are
impacted by anthropogenic activities. Median concentrations of total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) were 325 &mug L&minus1 and 275 &mug L&minus1 in the Amazon and Orinoco basins, respectively, increasing to nearly 850 &mug L&minus1 in La Plata Basin rivers and 2000 &mug L&minus1 in small northern Venezuelan watersheds. The median TDN yield of Amazon Basin rivers (approximately 4 kg ha&minus1 yr&minus1) was larger than TDN yields of undisturbed rivers of the La Plata and Orinoco basins however, TDN yields of polluted rivers were much higher than those of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers. Organic matter loads from natural and anthropogenic sources in rivers of South America strongly influence the N dynamics of this region.