Inputs of nutrients (phosphorus, P, and nitrogen, N) to coastal and fresh waters can accelerate eutrophication, resulting in excessive aquatic plant growth, depletion of oxygen, and deleterious changes in abundance and diversity of organisms. Using long-term (∼1995–2005) monitoring data from agriculturally-dominated watersheds in southern Ontario and Quebec, Canada, we developed and tested several approaches for setting targets for N and P. Our research showed that it is possible to set scientifically-credible targets for total P and total N to protect ecological condition of streams in agricultural landscapes, and define achievable targets attainable following adoption of beneficial management practices.

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