November 21, 2019

p.p1 Eutrophication, a term that derives from two greek

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Abstract

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The purpose of this experiment is to understand the effects of nutrient enrichment and eutrophication, using samples of water from Rio Salado and Encanto Park.  The samples will contain different concentration levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and nitrogen and phosphorous combined and the impact it has on algae growth. The results recorded showed that the nitrogen concentration levels had a little change, phosphorous levels had a higher change and phosphorous and nitrogen combined had a significantly higher change, resulting in higher algae growth. The results showed that phosphorous indeed is a limiting nutrient in algae growth, but to achieve the highest growth rate, both nitrogen and phosphorous need to be combined. 

Introduction

Eutrophication, a term that derives from two greek words, eu, meaning “good,” and trophic, meaning nutrition or nourishment, is the enrichment of water bodies with nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous that stimulate plant growth. Nitrogen is often found in rocks, soils, organisms, and the atmosphere; phosphorous resides mostly in rocks/soils and organisms. Having nitrogen and phosphorus in the ecosystem isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it’s required. Nitrogen is needed for the production of proteins and amnio acids, while phosphorous is required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, and is involved in energy transfers. (Danver & Burch, 2011) However, too much of a good thing, can be a bad thing. 
In the aquatic ecosystem, nutrient availability can come naturally or it can be human-induced. (Danver & Burch, 2011) In fact, the process can actually be accelerated by humans over time and the aquatic system cannot cope with the available inputs it is receiving. (Steele, Thorpe, & Turekian, 2009). Eutrophication causes loss of biodiversity, oxygen depletion, and a decline in water quality. This is a worldwide problem, significantly higher in Europe and North America. In the United States, eutrophication continues to impact the coastlines significantly, especially in the Gulf of Mexico and more than two-thirds of its estuaries. (Danver & Burch, 2011)
 In the early 1960s, algae blooms began to take over Lake Erie, one of the smaller lakes belonging to the five Great Lakes in the United States. In the area contained some point sources, including sewage treatment plants and runoff from urban and agricultural sources. By the 1970s, heavy metals were being pumped into Lake Erie and algae growth increased so much that it prohibited the exchange of oxygen between the water and the atmosphere, becoming hypoxic, causing any free-swimming and bottom-dwelling organisms to die. This was how Lake Erie became known as the “Dead Sea of North America,” and prompt research showed phosphorous being a key factor in eutrophication. Chesapeake, a bay bordering Maryland and Virginia was surrounded by fields for farmed cropland. Back in the 1950s to mid-1980s, human population in this area began to double and the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers tripled, causing localized water quality concerns from hypoxic conditions and public health issues. It has been estimated that nitrogen loading increased 700 percent and phosphorous has increased by 1800 percent.  (Danver & Burch, 2011) 
 One of the most impactful types of water pollution is cultural eutrophication because it is human generated fertilization of water bodies. Treated sewage and runoff from farm and urban areas contain high amounts of nitrates and phosphates being fed into bodies of water, as with Lake Erie and the Chesapeake Bay. (Meleen, 2011) When nitrogen and phosphorous enter the water it feeds the algae, stimulating plant growth and decreasing light transmission. This causes bacterial decay of algae and in extreme cases can remove oxygen completely. (Clendenon & Atkins, 2016) Fertilizers are rich with nitrogen and phosphorous and studies have shown that in the lower Mississippi river the concentration levels have increased due to nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers on cropped land. (Kumar & Soupir, 2012)
 Naturally, people are attracted to lakes, rivers, and coastlines. Clean water is needed for drinking irrigation, industry, transportation, recreation, fishing, hunting and support of biodiversity. (Carpenter, Caraco, Correll, Howarth & Smith, 2011) However, not only is eutrophication becoming an issue within our waters but raises concerns for human health. Annually, thousands of swimming advisories and beach closings are happening because there are high levels of disease-causing microbes being found in the water. (Clendenon & Atkins, 2016) Increasing water contamination is a major concern and according to The World Health Organization, it was estimated that approximately 3.2 million deaths happen each year due to water contamination, accounting for about 6 percent of all deaths globally. The World Health Organization has also estimated that 88 percent of global disease is attributable to contaminated waters, particularly pathogen-contaminated waters. (Kumar & Soupir, 2012)
 Furthermore, due to water quality, water shortages are becoming increasingly common and are predicted to become more severe. Contamination reduces water supply and in-turn increases the coast of treating water for use. (Carpenter, Caraco, Corell, Howarth & Smith, 2011) If eutrophication is not resolved, the ecosystem could be changed and the loss of habitats and aquatic plant beds. (Clendenon & Atkins, 2016) Eutrophication is caused by excessive inputs of phosphorous and nitrogen and in this experiment, I will look at potential causes of eutrophication in the water sample from Rio Salado. Does the concentration level of nitrogen and phosphorous affect the rate of algae growth? 

Materials and Methods

 Our experiment was to see the effect of additional plant nutrients would have on algae found in either Rio Salado or Encanto Park Lake Water. The samples used in this experiment were unfiltered and collected from Rio Salado water at the south bank of the river’s shore using a 3-gallon plastic container that was submersed into the river. The water kept at ambient air temperature and transported back to the laboratory the same day and used in the following procedures. 
 To begin, a stock solution of Nitrogen was prepared. First, a weighing boat was placed on a balance, tared and then used to weigh 0.2 g of nitrogen (ammonium nitrate). The amount weighed was 0.231 g. Afterward, a 100 mL of reverse osmosis water was placed into a 125 mL flask labeled Nitrogen and the 0.231 g of ammonium nitrate, which had just been weighed were added into the flask and gently swirled until it was completely dissolved. Next, a stock solution of Phosphorus was prepared. The same steps were followed above, and 0.2 g of Phosphorus (Sodium Phosphate) was weighed on a new weighing boat. The amount weighed was 0.206 g. Using a clean 1125 mL graduated cylinder, labeled Phosphorus, the sodium phosphate was placed into the cylinder with 100 mL of reverse osmosis water and gently swirled until dissolved. This step was completed a third time using Phosphorus and Nitrogen combined. 0.203 g of sodium phosphate and 0.217 g of ammonium nitrate were placed into a 125 mL graduated cylinder that contained 100 mL of reverse osmosis water and gently swirled until both products had dissolved. 

Concentration Levels of Mg/L

Nitrogen stock solution #1 concentration (mg/L): 2310 mg/L
Nitrogen stock solution #2 concentration (mg/L): 231 mg/L
Phosphorous stock solution #1 concentration (mg/L): 2060 mg/L
Phosphorous stock solution #2 concentration (mg/L): 206 mg/L
N+P stock solution #1, N concentration (mg/L): 2030 mg/L
N+P stock solution #1, P concentration (mg/L): 2170 mg/L
N+P stock solution #2, N concentration (mg/L): 203 mg/L
N+P stock solution #2, P concentration (mg/L): 217 mg/L

 The next step in the experiment was to test the water collected from Rio Salado lake. 18 test tubes were labeled 1-6 N (Nitrogen), 1-6 P (Phosphorous), and 1-6 N+P (Nitrogen + Phosphorous). The water collected had been placed in a 1L plastic bottle and placed at the table where the experiment was being conducted, along with a 10 mL pipette and a green pipette. 10 mL of Rio Salado water was then added to tubes 1-6. Using the corresponding stock solution (#2)  every tube labeled #1 received 0.2 mL, tubes labeled #2 received 0.1 mL, tubes labeled #3 received 0.05 mL, tubes labeled #4 received 0.025 mL, tubes #5 received 0.010 mL and tubes labeled #6 did not receive anything from stock #2. So, tube #1 of N would receive 0.2 mL of Nitrogen #2. Tube #1 of Phosphorous would receive 0.2 mL of Phosphorous #2, etc. 

Tube # Stock #2 added (mL) Total volume (mL)
1 0.2 mL 10.2 mL
2 0.1 mL 10.1 mL
3 0.05 mL 10.05 mL
4 0.025 mL 10.025 mL
5 0.010 mL 10.01 mL
6 0 10.00 mL

After this was completed, slip on caps were placed on the test tubes, labeled appropriately and incubated in order to determine the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus (mg/L) in the 6 tubes for each nutrient treatment. This would be useful in order to observe any algal growth. This experiment was done by multiple students in the class and results were averaged and used to develop graphs.

Treatment / Tube

1

2

3

4

5

6

Nitrogen (mg/L)

3.92

2.29

1.15

0.58

0.23

0.23

Phosphorous (mg/L)

4.04

2.04

1.02

0.51

0.21

0.21

N+P (mg/L)

7.96

4.33

2.17

1.09

0.44

0.44

RESULTS

The results of observable algae growth between Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and N+P, suggests algae growth. Phosphorous had more algae growth than Nitrogen, but N+P had the highest algae growth. Nitrogen alone didn’t show a significant change in algae growth (table 1), but phosphorous alone was significantly higher (table 2), and N+P had the highest change, overall. (table 3) The data shows that phosphorous is indeed a limiting nutrient in algae growth, but to achieve the highest results it has to be combined with nitrogen. The data was statistically analyzed using standard deviation within Excel with a 95% confidence. 

1. 2.

3.

Looking at the graphs below is the data collected from Encanto Park, showing similar results from Rio Salado. Again, there is no significant change in Nitrogen alone, phosphorous shows a significantly higher change and N+P had the highest change.

4. 5.

6.

DISCUSSION

 The experiment involved adding different concentration levels of phosphorous and nitrogen into water samples from Rio Salado and Encanto Park in order to see the rate of algae growth if any. The water samples both concluded that nitrogen alone did not have a significant change in algae growth while phosphorous had a significantly higher change and N+P combined achieved the highest results in algae growth. The results show that phosphorous is a limiting nutrient in algae growth but increases dramatically when combined with nitrogen. 
 Because it is shown that nitrogen alone does not significantly increase algae growth by much, unless combined with phosphorous, it would be interesting to see that if nitrogen is combined with any other nutrient (or heavy metal, etc), if algae growths would speed up. If phosphorous is indeed the main reason for eutrophication, and we find a way to eliminate it, it would be good to double check that combining nitrogen with any other agent would’ve had the same effect, as when combined with phosphorous. 

References

Carpenter, S. R., Caraco, N. F., Correll, D. L., Howarth, R. W., & Smith, V. H. (1998). Nonpoint Pollution of Surface Waters with Phosphorus and Nitrogen. Nonpoint Pollution of Surface Waters with Phosphorus and Nitrogen S. R. Carpenter, N. F. Caraco, D. L. Correll, R. W. Howarth, A. N. Sharpley and V. H. Smith Ecological Applications, 8(3), 559-568. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2641247
Clendenon, C., & Atkins, W. A. (2016). Pollution of the Ocean by Sewage, Nutrients, and Chemicals. Water: Science and Issues, 3, 236-242. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library database. (Accession No. GALE|CX3409400256)
Danver, E. S. L., & Burch, J. R., Jr. (2011). Eutrophication. Encyclopedia of Water Politics and Policy in the United States, 100-103. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library database. (Accession No. GALE|CX1966500041)
Kumar, P., & Soupir, L. (2012). Pollution, Nonpoint Source. Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability, 302-307. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library database. (Accession No. GALE|CX3476600075)
Meleen, N. H. (2011). Cultural Eutrophication. Environmental Encyclopedia, 1(4), 408-409. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library database. (Accession No. GALE|CX1918700379)
Steele, J. H., Thorpe, S. A., & Turekian, K. K. (2009). Eutrophication. Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences, 2(2), 306-323. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library database. (Accession No. GALE|CX4098600130)

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