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Synopsis: Riparian buffers, the vegetated region adjacent to streams and wetlands, are thought to be effective at intercepting and reducing nitrogen loads entering water bodies. Riparian buffer width is thought to be positively related to nitrogen removal effectiveness by influencing nitrogen retention or removal. We surveyed the scientific literature containing data on riparian buffers and nitrogen concentration in streams and groundwater to identify trends between nitrogen removal effectiveness and buffer width, hydrological flow path, and vegetative cover. Nitrogen removal effectiveness varied widely. Wide buffers (.50 m) more consistently removed significant portions of nitrogen entering a riparian zone than...