Testing the use of novel stable isotope tools to determine nutrient sources in an eastern Canadian watershed

Cultural eutrophication, the excess input of nutrients by humans to waterbodies, is one of the biggest global threats to aquatic ecosystem health. Effective management of eutrophication requires the identification of nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) sources and their relative contributions to an aquatic system. This is difficult, because there can be sources in a single watershed. For instance, potential nutrient sources include runoff from agricultural, livestock, or urban areas, wastewater treatment effluent, pulp and paper mill effluent, and aquaculture operations. In this study, I propose to test the use of novel stable isotope tracers to differentiate nutrient sources in the Wolastoq River. I will then use this information to determine relative contributions of different sources to overall nutrient loading in areas of harmful algal bloom occurrence. This project aims to establish an approach to effectively manage nutrient inputs, and to ultimately improve water quality, in Canadian watersheds.

Stephanie Graves
Faculty Supervisor: 
Diane Orihel;Brian Hayden
Partner University: