Can shellfish farming clean our coastal waters?

Coastal waters throughout the United States and the globe are suffering from an excess of nitrogen due to human activities. Excess nitrogen comes from a variety of sources such as wastewater treatment plants and can impact the health of coastal habitats. Coastal managers are adopting a variety of practices to limit the nitrogen inputs to coastal waters including improved stormwater and wastewater treatments, but could shellfish farming help clean our coastal waters? A study from Cape Cod, Massachusetts sought to quantify how much nitrogen can be removed from coastal waters through oyster and quahog farming.

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Seaweed as far as the eye can see

In the center of the Atlantic Ocean lies the Sargasso Sea. The brown seaweed, Sargassum, gives the Sea its name; However, in the past decade this belt of Sargassum has been exploding. During certain seasons, the Sargassum belt has expanded from West Africa to the Americas. Beached seaweed has led to numerous problems and concerns for much of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Research led by Dr. Mengqiu Wang from the University of South Florida used previous data to determine what makes these seaweeds take over the ocean in order to better predict when these blooms may occur.

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Cover Crops: Good for Water Quality?

Cover crops have been a popular management strategy to reduce nutrient runoff from agriculture. However, evidence suggests that some cover crops may in fact release nutrients, instead of keeping them out of the water. One study explores whether five types of cover crops release phosphorus, and how that may impact water quality in the important Great Lakes region.

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City phosphorus, country phosphorus: can we mitigate P in different environments?

Phosphorus is essential for life, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing. In excess, phosphorus can cause algal blooms, creating dead zones in bodies of water. How do we prevent phosphorus from entering water systems? Katrina Macintosh and her team did a comprehensive review to track phosphorus from diffuse sources to find out.

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182 Years in the Making: Invertebrate Communities of Narragansett Bay

Benthic invertebrates support various ecosystem functions and services such as shellfish production and biogeochemical cycling. Historical data spanning 182 years permitted Hale and colleagues to determine the trends and current conditions of invertebrate communities in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. From the 104 studies, the authors detected over 1,000 different taxa that have been observed within the esturary and suggest human influence has greatly impacted the overall biodiversity of the invertebrate community.

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Something to chew on: the environmental impacts of our food choices

Hamburger or fish sandwich? Which lunch option has the lowest environmental impact? Consumers and policy makers aiming to make informed choices about what animal protein food sources to support have a new resource available this month, thanks to a review led by University of Washington researchers.

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What can 100 years of mud tell us?

Turns out 100 years of mud can tell us quite a bit about microbial communities. Capo and colleagues found out how microbial communities are impacted by environmental change. Using an emerging proxy, DNA recovered from lake sediments, they were able to show microbial eukaryotic diversity through time, which revealed interesting trends in response to eutrophication and climate warming.

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The fate of our waste: nitrogen removal in residential wastewater

Residential wastewater serves as a major source of nitrogen to coastal watersheds. Increased nitrogen loads can harm coastal ecosystems, so advanced onsite wastewater treatment systems have been designed in order to reduce these loads and protect coastal waters.

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