Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Road salt affects mitigation wetlands


Sacrificing one wetland for the sake of five others may be the way to go when planning constructed wetlands to replace those destroyed during road building, but a Penn State Erie biologist is monitoring the salinity of the wetlands to see how the salt affects animals and insects.

"I am currently doing research in wetlands that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation constructed as mitigation wetlands to replace all the ones that were destroyed by the new road," says Dr. Pamela Silver, professor of biology, Penn State Erie, the Behrend College.

In November 2003, PennDOT completed a four-lane highway connecting Interstate 90 with the Erie waterfront. A portion of the road crossed the Penn State Erie campus. PennDOT asked researchers if they wanted to use the road building as an opportunity to do research.

"PennDOT has really gone out of their way to consider the environmental impact of what they have done," says Silver. "They have been extremely good about talking to the college to minimize the effects of having a road across campus and have gone out of their way to be as environmentally responsible as possible."

When building the section of road across the Behrend campus, PennDOT installed an elaborate drainage system beneath the road to collect all the runoff. The water goes to only one of the six constructed wetlands and eventually runs downhill through woodlands.

Silver is monitoring two PennDOT-installed data loggers to measure the amounts of salt that enter the designated runoff wetland and one other that is slightly affected by splashover from salt spreading and snow melting. The data loggers record salinity hourly.

"Salt levels in the runoff wetland reach peaks that are half as salty as sea water," Silver told attendees at the North American Benthological Meeting today (May 24) at the 2005 Joint Assembly in New Orleans. "We recorded peaks during the winter as high as 10 to 12 parts per thousand in the runoff wetland and 2.5 to 3 parts per thousand in the other affected wetland." Freshwater has zero salinity, while seawater has a salinity of about 28 parts per thousand.

Silver has also tested all six wetlands for salinity and looked in bottom sediment for non-biting midge populations because midges are good indicators of stress.

"Last year all the wetlands went back to zero salinity in mid spring," says Silver. "We are not sure if this will continue as we do not know if the baseline will creep up from salt deposited in the sediment."

She does not know if the salt levels will again fall back to zero in mid spring this year as Erie had its last snowfall on May 2 and had a three-foot snowfall in late April.

"PennDOT is between a rock and a hard place," says Silver. "Everyone knows that the salt is not good for the environment, but salting roads is a huge safety issue in a part of the country that gets 10 to 12 feet of snow every winter."

Silver’s research does show a large decrease in non-biting midges in the designated runoff wetland. The effect on other species is not yet known. There was no decrease in midges from the slightly salty wetland. In general, freshwater organisms are not very salt tolerant. The Penn State researcher has students poised to look at the numbers and species of algae, amphibians, insects and bacteria in the salty and freshwater wetlands.

"We would like to know how big a hit these two wetlands are going to take from the salt. We see an effect on the midges in the runoff receiving wetland, but so far there is no effect on the slightly salty one," says Silver. "One thing we would like to see is what happens to bullfrog tadpoles and dragonflies that overwinter in the sediment mud."

The researcher would also like to sample the soil where the runoff eventually leaves the wetland to see if salt is building up there.

A’ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>