U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Ecological Engineering 56 (2013) 60– 68




Agriculture in coastal areas of Puerto Rico is often adjacent to or near mangrove wetlands. Riparian buffers, while they may also be wetlands, can be used to protect mangrove wetlands from agricultural inputs of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides. We used simulation models and field data to estimate the water, nitrogen, and phosphorus inputs from an agricultural field and riparian buffer to a mangrove wetland in Jobos Bay watershed, Puerto Rico. We used the Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender (APEX) and the Riparian Ecosystem Management Model (REMM) models sequentially to simulate the hydrology and water quality of the agricultural fields and an adjacent riparian buffer, respectively. Depth to the water table surface was measured monthly at numerous sites in both field and riparian areas and were used with recording well data from outside the field to estimate daily water table depths in the field and riparian buffer and to calibrate field-scale hydrologic processes. Calibration and validation of the models were successful for the riparian buffer and in three of four field quadrants. In these areas the average simulated depth to water table for the field and the riparian buffer were within ±7% of field estimated water table depths. Over the 3-year study period, the riparian buffer represented by REMM reduced agricultural loadings to the mangrove wetland by 24% for sediment yield, and about 30% for total nitrogen and phosphorus. Simulations indicated that tropical storms and hurricanes played an important role in water and nutrient transport on this site contributing at least 63% of total sediment and nutrient loads.