Navigation Links
Fertilizers -- a growing threat to sea life
Date:10/21/2008

A rise in carbon emissions is not the only threat to the planet. Changes to the nitrogen cycle, caused in large part by the widespread use of fertilizers, are also damaging both water quality and aquatic life. These concerns are highlighted by Professor Grace Brush, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, in her historical review (1) of landscape changes around Chesapeake Bay, a large estuary on the Atlantic coast of the USA. Her findings are published online this week in Springer's journal Estuaries and Coasts.

Professor Brush studied the organisms and materials preserved in sediments in Chesapeake Bay spanning 1000 to 14,000 years, alongside available historical records covering the past 300 years, to trace the history of changes to nitrogen loading in the estuary. She highlights how population growth, agricultural expansion, and urbanization have released nitrogen from the land and moved it to Chesapeake Bay, where it has accumulated and degraded both the natural wildlife and water quality.

The combination of the increasing use of fertilizers, deforestation and the draining of wetlands and floodplains to provide more land for crops, has led to an imbalance in the nitrogen cycle, in particular reduced opportunities for the natural removal of nitrogen. As a result, there is an excess of nitrogen in the estuary, also known as eutrophication. This in turn has led to the deterioration of the local ecosystem through reduced concentrations of oxygen in the bay, affecting both the water quality and the fish populations.

Providing food for an increasing population is the main reason for these changes, according to Professor Brush. Although the estuary supplied an abundance of fish species, humans also need plant-based food products in their diets, hence the increase in grasslands and use of fertilizers. She adds that aquatic deterioration is not unique to Chesapeake but a global phenomenon. Marine "dead zones" with low oxygen and/or toxic algae, caused primarily by the run-off of fertilizers from the land, as well as a greater reliance on fossil fuel, are on the increase.

Professor Brush concludes her review by looking at the likely implications of this imbalanced nitrogen cycle on future ecosystems as well as ways to improve water quality. She recommends multiple processes to reduce nitrogen accumulation, both natural and engineered, and notes that ultimately the decision to proceed will come down to politics.

Brush comments, "The future of the Chesapeake and coastal regions in general will depend very much on the recognition of the importance of nitrogen removal for goals other than restoring the fishery, how successful the various tools for nitrogen removal are, and the willingness of the public to pay for the implementation of those tools that can successfully achieve multiple goals."


'/>"/>

Contact: Joan Robinson
joan.robinson@springer.com
49-622-148-78130
Springer
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study reveals that nitrogen fertilizers deplete soil organic carbon
2. Inmates conduct ecological research on slow-growing mosses
3. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News reports on growing role of molecular diagnostics
4. Green coffee-growing practices buffer climate-change impacts
5. Growing a garden of future environmental leaders
6. Researchers discover that growing up too fast may mean dying young in honey bees
7. Giant grass offers clues to growing corn in cooler climes, researchers report
8. Growing use of nanomaterials spurs research to investigate possible downsides
9. Establishing faster-growing, durable football fields
10. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News reports on growing use of cell-based assays
11. A tall story: New research adds to growing body of knowledge of genetics of height
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... Feb. 2, 2016  Based on its recent ... Sullivan recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) ... Award for New Product Innovation. IRIS, a prominent ... North America , is poised to set ... diabetic retinopathy market. The IRIS technology presents superior ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... -- Wocket® smart wallet ( www.wocketwallet.com ) announces the launch of a new ... Las Vegas , where Joey appeared at the ... Las Vegas , where Joey appeared at the Wocket booth to ... was filmed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES2016) in Las ... and greet fans. --> --> ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... 2016   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS ) today ... (JFK) International Airport, New York City , to ... attempting to enter the United States using ... pilot testing of the system at Dulles last year. ... JFK during January 2016. --> pilot testing of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 09, 2016 , ... Creation Technologies, ... of the Highest Overall Customer Rating Award from Circuits Assembly , today announced ... across the USA, Canada, Mexico and China. , The EMS provider, known in ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... , Feb. 9, 2016  Regenicin, Inc. (OTC ... specializing in the development and commercialization of regenerative ... tissues and organs, recently reported the Company,s operating ... quarter of 2016. Lonza America , ... 2015 fiscal year in the process of consummating ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... ... announced today the launch of its revamped and improved website. In an on-going ... solutions, the redesigned website will better communicate how the company designs and delivers ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Tunnell Consulting, Inc. announced that Frédéric Lefebvre has joined the ... acquiring new accounts and work closely with existing Tunnell clients throughout Europe to ensure ... European clients more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, a thorough ...
Breaking Biology Technology: