Comparison of four nitrate removal kinetic models in two distinct wetland restoration mesocosm systems

Tiffany L. Messer, Michael R. Burchell, François Bírgand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The objective of the study was to determine the kinetic model that best fit observed nitrate removal rates at the mesocosm scale in order to determine ideal loading rates for two future wetland restorations slated to receive pulse flow agricultural drainage water. Four nitrate removal models were investigated: zero order, first order decay, efficiency loss, and Monod. Wetland mesocosms were constructed using the primary soil type (in triplicate) at each of the future wetland restoration sites. Eighteen mesocosm experiments were conducted over two years across seasons. Simulated drainage water was loaded into wetlands as batches, with target nitrate-N levels typically observed in agricultural drainage water (between 2.5 and 10 mg L-1). Nitrate-N removal observed during the experiments provided the basis for calibration and validation of the models. When the predictive strength of each of the four models was assessed, results indicated that the efficiency loss and first order decay models provided the strongest agreement between predicted and measured NO3-N removal rates, and the fit between the two models were comparable. Since the predictive power of these two models were similar, the less complicated first order decay model appeared to be the best choice in predicting appropriate loading rates for the future full-scale wetland restorations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number517
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 13 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project was supported with funds provided by the North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina Research Grant. Additionally, the research described in this article has been funded in part by the United State Protection Agency (EPA) under the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship Program. EPA has not officially endorsed this publication and the views expressed herein may not reflect the views of the EPA. Collaborators that made this project possible includeWilson Daughtry, the North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF), Mattamuskeet Drainage Association, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Special thanks to Maggie Rabiipour, Mary Curtis, Randall Etheridge, Yo-Jin Shiau, JacobWiseman, Kathleen Bell, L.T.Woodlief, and Nicole Mathis for field assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors.


  • Kinetic modeling
  • Mesocosm
  • Nitrate-N
  • Treatment wetlands
  • Wetland restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Biochemistry


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