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Agricultural intensification during the last century has caused river degradation across Europe. From the wide range of stressors derived from agricultural activities that impact rivers, diffuse agricultural pollution has received most of the attention from managers and scientists. The aim of this study was to determine the main stressors exerted by intensive agriculture on streams around Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs), which are areas of land that drain into waters polluted by nitrates according to the European Nitrate Directive (91/676/EEC). The study area was located in the NW of La Rioja (Northern Spain), which has some of the highest nitrate concentrations within the Ebro basin. The relationships between 40 environmental variables and the taxonomic and functional characteristics of the macroinvertebrate assemblages (which are useful indicators of water quality) were analyzed in 11 stream reaches differentially affected by upstream agricultural activity. The streams affected by a greater percentage of agricultural land cover in the surrounding catchment had significantly higher nitrate concentrations than the remaining sites. However, hydromorphological alteration (i.e. channel simplification, riparian forest and habitat degradation), which is closely linked to agricultural practices, was the main factor affecting macroinvertebrate assemblages. We suggest that "good agricultural practices" should be implemented in streams affected by NVZs to reverse stream degradation, in concordance with the European Water Framework Directive (WFD).
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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An NAD-dependent enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of nitrite to nitrate. It is a FLAVOPROTEIN that contains IRON and MOLYBDENUM and is involved in the first step of nitrate assimilation in PLANTS; FUNGI; and BACTERIA. It was formerly classified as EC 126.96.36.199.
An iron-sulfur and MOLYBDENUM containing FLAVOPROTEIN that catalyzes the oxidation of nitrite to nitrate. This enzyme can use either NAD or NADP as cofactors. It is a key enzyme that is involved in the first step of nitrate assimilation in PLANTS; FUNGI; and BACTERIA. This enzyme was formerly classified as EC 188.8.131.52.
An enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of nitrite to nitrate in the presence of NADP+. It is a FLAVOPROTEIN that contains IRON and MOLYBDENUM. This enzyme was formerly classified as EC 184.108.40.206 and should not be confused with the enzyme NITRATE REDUCTASE (NAD(P)H).
An enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of nitrite to nitrate. It is a cytochrome protein that contains IRON and MOLYBDENUM.
The routing of water to open or closed areas where it is used for agricultural purposes.