Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nutrient Pollution Chokes Marine And Freshwater Ecosystems

Date:
March 5, 2009
Source:
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Summary:
Protecting drinking water and preventing harmful coastal "dead zones," as well as eutrophication in many lakes, will require reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

In freshwater ecosystems, like lakes, phosphorus pollution causes algal blooms.
Credit: Michael Mill

Protecting drinking water and preventing harmful coastal "dead zones", as well as eutrophication in many lakes, will require reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Because streams and rivers are conduits to the sea, management strategies should be implemented along the land-to-ocean continuum. In most cases, strategies that focus only on one nutrient will fail.

Related Articles


These policy recommendations were put forth by a team of distinguished scientists in the recent issue of Science, published February 20. Led by Dr. Daniel J. Conley, a marine ecologist at the GeoBiosphere Science Centre in Sweden and a Visiting Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, the paper reviews weaknesses in single-nutrient management strategies. In most cases, improving water quality and preserving coastal oceans will require a two-pronged approach.

Plant growth is tied to nitrogen and phosphorus availability. Human activities have greatly increased the abundance of these nutrients, causing the overproduction of aquatic plants and algae. Nitrogen pollution is largely derived from agricultural fertilizers and emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. Phosphorus pollution is tied primarily to wastewater treatment and detergents. Inputs to the landscape make their way to coastal areas through the drainage networks of rivers and streams.

Dr. Gene E. Likens, one of the paper's authors and an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, comments, "Historically, environmental management strategies in freshwater systems have focused on reducing phosphorus pollution. While this has minimized freshwater algal blooms, it passed a great deal of nitrogen pollution on to coastal ecosystems, driving eutrophication and causing serious and widespread problems in those regions."

These environmental problems include reductions in the oxygen levels of coastal water, which can cause "dead zones" and fish die-offs; the proliferation of undesirable plant growth; reductions in water quality; and the loss of important coastal fish habitat, such as sea grass and kelp beds.

Likens stresses, "By focusing only on minimizing phosphorus in our fresh waters, and ignoring nitrogen inputs, existing management strategies are exacerbating the decline of coastal ecosystems. We need to stop passing the problem downstream and adopt dual-nutrient reduction strategies."

Eutrophication is a problem of global concern. Worldwide, there are over 415 eutrophic coastal ecosystems. As a result of human population growth and increased pollution, this number continues to rise.

The paper's authors included: Drs. Daniel J. Conley, Hans W. Paerl, Robert W. Howarth, Donald F. Boesch, Sybil P. Seitzinger, Karl E. Havens, Christiane Lancelot, and Gene E. Likens.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. "Nutrient Pollution Chokes Marine And Freshwater Ecosystems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090219141533.htm>.
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. (2009, March 5). Nutrient Pollution Chokes Marine And Freshwater Ecosystems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090219141533.htm
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. "Nutrient Pollution Chokes Marine And Freshwater Ecosystems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090219141533.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — Hundreds of Amazon River turtles released into the wild in Peru. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins