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R.I. nitrogen cycle differs in bay and sound
Date:4/28/2014

ed at key measures of oxygen, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonium and organic matter in the sediments and measured environmental conditions such as salinity and temperature at the sites. They also performed experiments on the sediment cores to determine their potential denitrification and anammox rates.

What they found was that in the sounds annamox contributed between 8 and 42 percent of the N2 produced (denitrification produced the balance), while annamox produced no more than 4 percent of the N2 in sediments from the estuary or the bay.

Anammox activity wasn't seasonal in either locale, they found, and the waters were comparably salty. What did differ, however, was that compared to the sediments of the sounds, the estuarine and bay sediments had less oxygen mixed in and therefore less nitrate. Those factors were associated with less anammox activity.

So the questions Rich is now asking come down to why oxygen and nitrate levels vary in sound and bay sediments.

One of Rich's observations has been that in the sound's sediments, but not the bay's, little shrimp burrow and effectively promote the mixing in of oxygen.

It's speculation to blame a lack of the shrimp for the bay's dearth of anammox, Rich said, but it is a new hypothesis worth consideration. In the meantime, what the new study suggests is that Rhode Island's bay waters somehow lack the proper conditions to activate an important process in returning nitrogen from the sea to the air.


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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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