Indicators of nutrient pollution in Long Island, New York, estuarine environments.
ABSTRACT: Roughly eight million people live on Long Island, including Brooklyn and Queens, and despite improvements in wastewater treatment, nearly all its coastal waterbodies are impaired by excessive nitrogen. We used nutrient stoichiometry and stable isotope ratios in estuarine biota and soils to identify water pollution hot spots and compare among potential indicators. We found strong gradients in ?15N values, which were correlated with watershed land cover, population density, and wastewater discharges. Weaker correlations were found for ?13C values and nutrient stoichiometric ratios. Structural equation modeling identified contrasts between western Long Island, where ?15N values depended on watershed population density, and eastern Long Island where ?15N values reflected agriculture and sewage discharges. These results illustrate the use of stable isotopes as water quality indicators, and establish a baseline against which the efficacy of strategies to reduce nutrients can be measured.
Project description:Land-based management has reduced nutrient discharges; however, many coastal waterbodies remain impaired. Oyster "bioextraction" of nutrients and how oyster aquaculture might complement existing management measures in urban estuaries was examined in Long Island Sound, Connecticut. Eutrophication status, nutrient removal, and ecosystem service values were estimated using eutrophication, circulation, local- and ecosystem-scale models, and an avoided-costs valuation. System-scale modeling estimated that 1.31% and 2.68% of incoming nutrients could be removed by current and expanded production, respectively. Up-scaled local-scale results were similar to system-scale results, suggesting that this up-scaling method could be useful in bodies of water without circulation models. The value of removed nitrogen was estimated using alternative management costs (e.g., wastewater treatment) as representative, showing ecosystem service values of $8.5 and $470 million per year for current and maximum expanded production, respectively. These estimates are conservative; removal by clams in Connecticut, oysters and clams in New York, and denitrification are not included. Optimistically, the calculation of oyster-associated removal from all leases in both states (5% of bottom area) plus denitrification losses showed increases to 10%-30% of annual inputs, which would be higher if clams were included. Results are specific to Long Island Sound, but the approach is transferable to other urban estuaries.
Project description:Large-scale and rapid improvement in wastewater treatment is common practice in developing countries, yet this influence on nutrient regimes in receiving waterbodies is rarely examined at broad spatial and temporal scales. Here, we present a study linking decadal nutrient monitoring data in lakes with the corresponding estimates of five major anthropogenic nutrient discharges in their surrounding watersheds over time. Within a continuous monitoring dataset covering the period 2008 to 2017, we find that due to different rates of change in TN and TP concentrations, 24 of 46 lakes, mostly located in China's populated regions, showed increasing TN/TP mass ratios; only 3 lakes showed a decrease. Quantitative relationships between in-lake nutrient concentrations (and their ratios) and anthropogenic nutrient discharges in the surrounding watersheds indicate that increase of lake TN/TP ratios is associated with the rapid improvement in municipal wastewater treatment. Due to the higher removal efficiency of TP compared with TN, TN/TP mass ratios in total municipal wastewater discharge have continued to increase from a median of 10.7 (95% confidence interval, 7.6 to 15.1) in 2008 to 17.7 (95% confidence interval, 13.2 to 27.2) in 2017. Improving municipal wastewater collection and treatment worldwide is an important target within the 17 sustainable development goals set by the United Nations. Given potential ecological impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function of altered nutrient ratios in wastewater discharge, our results suggest that long-term strategies for domestic wastewater management should not merely focus on total reductions of nutrient discharges but also consider their stoichiometric balance.
Project description:Excess nutrient loading to nearshore environments has been linked to declining water quality and ecosystem health. Macro-algal blooms, eutrophication, and reduction in coral cover have been observed in West Maui, Hawaii, and linked to nutrient inputs from coastal submarine groundwater seeps. Here, we present a forty-year record of nitrogen isotopes (?15N) of intra-crystalline coral skeletal organic matter in three coral cores collected at this site and evaluate the record in terms of changes in nitrogen sources. Our results show a dramatic increase in coral ?15N values after 1995, corresponding with the implementation of biological nutrient removal at the nearby Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility (LWRF). High ?15N values are known to be strongly indicative of denitrification and sewage effluent, corroborating a previously suggested link between local wastewater injection and degradation of the reef environment. This record demonstrates the power of coral skeletal ?15N as a tool for evaluating nutrient dynamics within coral reef environments.
Project description:Watershed development and anthropogenic sources of nitrogen are among leading causes of negative impacts to aquatic ecosystems around the world. The ?15N of aquatic biota can be used as indicators of anthropogenic sources of nitrogen enriched in 15N, but this mostly has been done at small spatial extents or to document effects of point sources. In this study, we sampled 77 sites along a forest to urban land cover gradient to examine food webs and the use of ?15N of periphyton and macroinvertebrate functional feeding groups (FFGs) as indicators of watershed development and nitrogen effects on streams. Functional feeding groups had low ?15N variability among taxa within sites. Mean absolute differences between individual taxa and their respective site FFG means were < 0.55‰, whereas site means of ?15N of FFGs had ranges of approximately 7-12‰ among sites. The ?15N of periphyton and macroinvertebrate FFGs distinguished least disturbed streams from those with greater watershed urbanization, and they were strongly correlated with increasing nitrogen concentrations and watershed impervious cover. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling, using ?15N of taxa, showed that changes in macroinvertebrate assemblages as a whole were associated with forest-to-urban and increasing nitrogen gradients. Assuming an average +3.4‰ per trophic level increase, ?15N of biota indicated that detrital pathways likely were important to food web structure, even in streams with highly developed watersheds. We used periphyton and macroinvertebrate FFG ?15N to identify possible management goals that can inform decisions affecting nutrients and watershed land use. Overall, the ?15N of periphyton and macroinvertebrates were strong indicators of watershed urban development effects on stream ecosystems, and thus, also could make them useful for quantifying the effectiveness of nitrogen, stream, and watershed management efforts.
Project description:In aquatic ecosystems, biological indicators are used in concert with nutrient concentration data to identify habitat impairments related to cultural eutrophication. This approach has been less commonly implemented in coastal areas due to the dominance of physical conditions in structuring biological assemblage data. Here, we describe the use of the stable isotopic composition of (Say), the eastern mudsnail, as an indicator of cultural eutrophication for 40 locations in coastal estuaries in New York. We found N enrichment in mudsnail tissue where watersheds had high population densities, land use patterns were more urbanized, and when sampling sites were adjacent to wastewater treatment plant discharges. Stable carbon isotopes were responsive to salinity and watershed forest cover, with more saline sites reflecting a predominantly C or algal carbon isotopic signature and more forested sites a lighter isotopic signature reflecting greater inputs of C terrestrial detrital carbon. Mudsnail nitrogen isotopic composition had a high level of separation between more affected and pristine watersheds (from 6.6 to 14.1‰), highlighting its utility as an indicator. We thus propose that stable isotope values of estuarine biota, such as the eastern mudsnail, can be used in concert with water quality data to identify areas where improvements in water quality are needed and can also be used to identify sources of detrital carbon to estuarine environments.
Project description:A mass balance was assembled for perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in the Baltic Sea. Inputs (from riverine discharge, atmospheric deposition, coastal wastewater discharges, and the North Sea) and outputs (to sediment burial, transformation of the chemical, and the North Sea), as well as the inventory in the Baltic Sea, were estimated from recently published monitoring data. Formation of the chemicals in the water column from precursors was not considered. River inflow and atmospheric deposition were the dominant inputs, while wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents made a minor contribution (<5%). A mass balance of the Oder River watershed was assembled to explore the sources of the perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in the river inflow. It indicated that WWTP effluents made only a moderate contribution to riverine discharge (21% for PFOA, 6% for PFOS), while atmospheric deposition to the watershed was 1-2 orders of magnitude greater than WWTP discharges. The input to the Baltic Sea exceeded the output for all four PFAAs, suggesting that inputs were higher during 2005-2010 than during the previous 20 years despite efforts to reduce emissions of PFAAs. One possible explanation is the retention and delayed release of PFAAs from atmospheric deposition in the soils and groundwater of the watershed.
Project description:Generally unseen and infrequently measured, submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) can transport potentially large loads of nutrients and other land-based contaminants to coastal ecosystems. To examine this linkage we employed algal bioassays, benthic community analysis, and geochemical methods to examine water quality and community parameters of nearshore reefs adjacent to a variety of potential, land-based nutrient sources on Maui. Three common reef algae, Acanthophora spicifera, Hypnea musciformis, and Ulva spp. were collected and/or deployed at six locations with SGD. Algal tissue nitrogen (N) parameters (?15N, N %, and C:N) were compared with nutrient and ?15N-nitrate values of coastal groundwater and nearshore surface water at all locations. Benthic community composition was estimated for ten 10-m transects per location. Reefs adjacent to sugarcane farms had the greatest abundance of macroalgae, low species diversity, and the highest concentrations of N in algal tissues, coastal groundwater, and marine surface waters compared to locations with low anthropogenic impact. Based on ?15N values of algal tissues, we estimate ca. 0.31 km2 of Kahului Bay is impacted by effluent injected underground at the Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility (WRF); this region is barren of corals and almost entirely dominated by colonial zoanthids. Significant correlations among parameters of algal tissue N with adjacent surface and coastal groundwater N indicate that these bioassays provided a useful measure of nutrient source and loading. A conceptual model that uses Ulva spp. tissue ?15N and N % to identify potential N source(s) and relative N loading is proposed for Hawai'i. These results indicate that SGD can be a significant transport pathway for land-based nutrients with important biogeochemical and ecological implications in tropical, oceanic islands.
Project description:Anthropogenic fecal pollution in urban waterbodies can promote the spread of waterborne disease. The objective of this study was to test crAssphage, a novel viral human fecal marker not previously applied for fecal source tracking in Latin America, as a fecal pollution marker in an urban river in Chile. Human fecal markers crAssphage CPQ_064 and Bacteroides HF183, the human pathogen norovirus GII, and culturable fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) were quantified at six locations spanning reaches of the Mapocho River from upstream to downstream of Santiago, as well as in repeated sub-daily frequency samples at two urban locations. Norovirus showed positive correlation trends with crAssphage (? = 0.57, p = 0.06) and HF183 (? = 0.64, p = 0.03) in river water, but not with E. coli or enterococci. CrAssphage and HF183 concentrations were strongly linearly related (slope = 0.97, p < 0.001). Chlorinated wastewater effluent was an important source of norovirus GII genes to the Mapocho. Precipitation showed non-significant positive relationships with human and general fecal indicators. Concentrations of crAssphage and HF183 in untreated sewage were 8.35 and 8.07 log10 copy/100 ml, respectively. Preliminary specificity testing did not detect crAssphage or HF183 in bird or dog feces, which are predominant non-human fecal sources in the urban Mapocho watershed. This study is the first to test crAssphage for microbial source tracking in Latin America, provides insight into fecal pollution dynamics in a highly engineered natural system, and indicates river reaches where exposure to human fecal pollution may pose a public health risk.
Project description:The highly populated coasts of the Bay of Bengal are particularly vulnerable to water-borne diseases, pollution and climatic extremes. The environmental factors behind bacterial community composition and Vibrio distribution were investigated in an estuarine system of a cholera-endemic region in the coastline of Bangladesh. Higher temperatures and sewage pollution were important drivers of the abundance of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae. A closer relation between non-culturable Vibrio and particulate organic matter (POM) was inferred during the post-monsoon. The distribution of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of Vibrio genus was likely driven by salinity and temperature. The resuspension of sediments increased Vibrio abundance and organic nutrient concentrations. The ?13C dynamic in POM followed an increasing gradient from freshwater to marine stations; nevertheless, it was not a marker of sewage pollution. Bacteroidales and culturable coliforms were reliable indicators of untreated wastewater during pre and post-monsoon seasons. The presumptive incorporation of depleted-ammonium derived from ammonification processes under the hypoxic conditions, by some microorganisms such as Cloacibacterium and particularly by Arcobacter nearby the sewage discharge, contributed to the drastic 15N depletion in the POM. The likely capacity of extracellular polymeric substances production of these taxa may facilitate the colonization of POM from anthropogenic origin and may signify important properties for wastewater bioremediation. Genera of potential pathogens other than Vibrio associated with sewage pollution were Acinetobacter, Aeromonas, Arcobacter, and Bergeyella. The changing environmental conditions of the estuary favored the abundance of early colonizers and the island biogeography theory explained the distribution of some bacterial groups. This multidisciplinary study evidenced clearly the eutrophic conditions of the Karnaphuli estuary and assessed comprehensively its current bacterial baseline and potential risks. The prevailing conditions together with human overpopulation and frequent natural disasters, transform the region in one of the most vulnerable to climate change. Adaptive management strategies are urgently needed to enhance ecosystem health.
Project description:We evaluated differences in the effects of three low-severity spring prescribed burns and four wildfires on nitrogen (N) biogeochemistry in Rocky Mountain headwater watersheds. We compared paired (burned/unburned) watersheds of four wildfires and three spring prescribed burns for three growing seasons post-fire. To better understand fire effects on the entire watershed ecosystem, we measured N concentrations and ?15N in both the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems components, i.e., soil, understory plants in upland and riparian areas, streamwater, and in-stream moss. In addition, we measured nitrate reductase activity in foliage of Spiraea betulifolia, a dominant understory species. We found increases of ?15N and N concentrations in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem N pools after wildfire, but responses were limited to terrestrial N pools after prescribed burns indicating that N transfer from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystem components did not occur in low-severity prescribed burns. Foliar ?15N differed between wildfire and prescribed burn sites; the ?15N of foliage of upland plants was enriched by 2.9 ‰ (difference between burned and unburned watersheds) in the first two years after wildfire, but only 1.3 ‰ after prescribed burns. In-stream moss ?15N in wildfire-burned watersheds was enriched by 1.3 ‰, but there was no response by moss in prescription-burned watersheds, mirroring patterns of streamwater nitrate concentrations. S. betulifolia showed significantly higher nitrate reductase activity two years after wildfires relative to corresponding unburned watersheds, but no such difference was found after prescribed burns. These responses are consistent with less altered N biogeochemistry after prescribed burns relative to wildfire. We concluded that ?15N values in terrestrial and aquatic plants and streamwater nitrate concentrations after fire can be useful indicators of the magnitude and duration of fire effects and the fate of post-fire available N.