Freshwater ecosystems are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic eutrophication (Kolzau et al., 2014) and require mitigation efforts to prevent oxygen depletion and subsequent biodiversity loss. Tres Rios Constructed Treatment Wetland (CTW) relies on wetland ecosystem functioning to reduce nutrient concentrations in order to meet regulatory guidelines. I investigated the impact of solar irradiance, temperature, and nutrient availability on aquatic net primary productivity, ecosystem respiration, and nutrient cycling using statistical analysis and quantitative modeling informed by field data generated by ASU’s Wetland Ecosystem Ecology Lab (WEEL) in partnership with the City of Phoenix Water Services Department. I found that the extent of daily solar insolation controls Aquatic Net Primary Productivity (ANPP) rates and the seasonal aquatic nutrient processing capacity of Tres Rios, resulting in the following approximate relationship: ANPP = 0.001344(W/m²) - 0.32634 (r² = 0.259; p = 0.005).
This formula was used to estimate the nutrient uptake performance of aquatic primary producers from sampling observations; ANPP accounted for 16.26 metric tons of system wide N uptake, while aquatic ER contributed 6.07 metric tons N of nighttime remineralization and 5.7 metric tons of N throughout the water column during the day. The estimated yearly net aquatic N flux is 4.49 metric tons uptake, compared to about 12 metric tons yearly N uptake by the vegetated marsh (Treese, 2019). However, not accounting for animal respiration results in an underestimation of system-wide N remineralization, and not accounting for soil processes results in an underestimation of N uptake.