Oyster and Macroalgae Bioindicators Detect Elevated δ15N in Maryland’s Coastal Bays
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract Nitrogen loading from anthropogenic sources, including fertilizer, manure, and sewage effluents, has been linked with declining water quality in coastal lagoons worldwide. Freshwater inputs to mid-Atlantic coastal lagoons of the USA are from terrestrially influenced sources: groundwater and overland flow via streams and agricultural ditches, with occasional precipitation events. Stable nitrogen isotopes ratios (d15N) in bioindicator species combined with conventional water quality monitoring were used to assess nitrogen sources and provide insights into their origins. Water quality data revealed that nutrients derived from terrestrial sources increased after precipitation events. Tissues from two bioindicator species, a macroalgae (Gracilaria sp.) and the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) were analyzed for d15N to determine spatial and temporal patterns of nitrogen sources. A broad-scale survey assessment of deployed macroalgae (June 2004) detected regions of elevated d15N. Macroalgal d15N (7.33ᱮ15頩n May 2006 and 6.76ᱮ15頩n July 2006) responded quickly to sustained June 2006 nutrient pulse, but did not detect spatial patterns at the fine scale. Oyster d15N (8.51ᰮ89驠responded slowly over longer time periods and exhibited a slight gradient at the finer spatial scale. Overall, elevated d15N values in macroalgae and oysters were used to infer that human and animal wastes were important nitrogen sources in some areas of Maryland's coastal bays. Different nitrogen integration periods across multiple organisms may be used to indicate nitrogen sources at various spatial and temporal scales, which will help focus nutrient management.
Estuaries and Coasts
Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified