Urban Stream Ecology in the Greater Cincinnati Area: Water Quality and Nutrient Levels

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Eme Cameron
Sophia Clemen
Sean Gallagher
Anna Salem
Jordan Nold
Ariana Berrios
Kenneth Petren


By Eme Cameron, Environmental Studies; Sophia Clemen, Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies; Sean Gallagher, Environmental Studies; Anna Salem, Biological Sciences; Jordan Nold, Environmental Studies; Ariana Berrios, Biological Sciences

Advisor: Kenneth Petren

Presentation ID: 206

Abstract: In more urbanized settings such as Cincinnati, water quality is a concern that scientists have continuously researched in order to make it safe for consumption and for healthy ecosystems. It is well known that runoff has the potential to reach streams and cause nutrient fluxes which can have a negative impact on waterways. There is very little information on the limitations of nutrients in our streams using nutrient deficiency. The goal of this study was to identify differences between urban streams in more developed areas compared to less developed areas with a focus on nutrient limitations. Our hypothesis stated that the addition of nutrients would increase growth within tested streams. We chose the streams Congress Run, Caldwell Creek, Cooper Creek, French Park, Howards Creek, Indian Creek, and Mount Airy White Pine as our streams for testing. An NDS (Nutrient Diffusing Substrata) method was used to assess different nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Other water parameters were tested as well in order to determine stream health. To test for the specific nutrients, NDS cups with agar substrate and differing levels of nitrate and phosphate (none, N, P and N+P) were created with fourfold replication and placed in twelve locations along streams in the Cincinnati area just downstream from a rock riffle. Congress run is the focus of parallel research conducted by the US-EPA. This stream received three NDS sets to compare a recently restored reach (daylighted: underground pipe removed) to nearby reaches. The results help to better understand and interpret the ecology of urban streams in terms of development, nutrients, and water quality. Collection and analysis from NDS sets showed that there were no significant nutrient limitations within the tested streams. We identified multiple factors, both internal and external, that skewed our data and did not support our hypothesis. Future studies should focus on higher concentrations of the nutrients within the agar cups and intend to minimize the variation we identified.

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Category: The Natural World