The study, which is the first to utilize the new Baylor Experimental Aquatic Research (BEAR) stream facility, demonstrates with certainty that an amount of phosphorus over a certain level does indeed cause negative changes observed in many Texas streams.
“This study is the first to really link nutrient field observations to controlled experiments and allows water managers to use the research as the scientific basis for water management strategies,” said Dr. Ryan King, associate professor of biology at Baylor, who led the study. “We were able to link cause and effect and show that the ecology of the streams is very sensitive to phosphorus.”
According the scientific literature, nutrient pollution – specifically phosphorus – is the most common cause of poor water quality in lakes, streams and wetlands in the United States. For instance, one of the most noticeable consequences of nutrient pollution is the accelerated growth of aquatic vegetation, like algae, which produces an undesirable disturbance to the balance of organisms present in the water. Explosive growths of nuisance algae can taint drinking water, cause foul odors and can result in dissolved oxygen shortages that kill fish and other aquatic organisms.
In Texas, phosphorus has been identified by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as the nutrient that would have the most effect in limiting algal and plant growth. However, until now, numerical nutrient criteria to control phosphorus levels have largely been developed subjectively and without experimental evidence to support them.
The Baylor researchers collected water nutrient samples and measured algae and aquatic vegetation growth over a two-year period from 26 different streams in Texas. They compared phosphorus levels to how much algae and aquatic vegetation was present. The researchers then conducted controlled experiments at the BEAR facility by dosing the streams with various phosphorus levels.
In both field observations and BEAR experiments, King and his team found that concentrations of phosphorus above 20 ppb are linked to declines in water quality and aquatic plant and animal life. They found filamentous algae levels dramatically increased with higher phosphorus levels, while the thickness of periphyton, which are algae attached to rocks, and the amount of aquatic plans declined. King and his team also found the level of dissolved oxygen, which is important for fish survival, plummeted when phosphorus levels were higher than 20 ppb and the stream’s water flow was low.
Dr. Bryan Brooks, associate professor of environmental sciences at Baylor, and several Baylor graduate students also collaborated on the project.
The only one of its kind at an academic institution in the United States and one of a few in the world, the Baylor Experimental Aquatic Research (BEAR) stream facility is outfitted with 12 miniature “real life” streams, which can be manipulated to look and act like streams found across central Texas and in other regions. The streams measure 60 feet in length and allow researchers to test aquatic contaminants in a controlled setting. In addition to the model streams, the research facility is outfitted with 24 model wetlands and is located near the Waco Wetlands west of the city limits.
Matt Pene | Newswise Science News
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News