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Research Technical Report

Comparison of Nutrient Concentration, Enteric Bacteria, and Phytoplankton Biodiversity between Carmel Bay and Monterey Bay

Carmichael, S., A. DeVogelaere, K. Coale, E. McPhee-Shaw, and M. Los Huertos (2007)

Final Report, NOAA Hollings 2006 Summer Internship Program, 11p


My summer internship took place at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) in Moss Landing, California under the direction of Andrew DeVolgelare, Ph.D. Research Coordinator for Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Director of Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network; Kenneth Coale, Ph.D. Director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories; Erika McPhee-Shaw, Ph.D. Assistant Professor at MLML; and Marc Los Huertos, Ph.D. Assistant Professor at CSUMB. This project started with my career interests and background in water chemistry and with the help of Kenneth Coale and Erika McPhee-Shaw the project was turned into the comparison of nutrient concentrations between two locations. This project coordinates with Carmel Bay work done by a Moss Landing Marine Laboratories student, Dustin Carroll, and the NOAA funded Center for Integrative Coastal Observation Research and Education, CICORE, program.

Nutrient and total coliform concentrations with levels of phytoplankton biodiversity were compared between two locations in Central California, one in the northern Monterey Bay and the other in Carmel Bay. A secondary goal of the study was to evaluate whether biodiversity in phytoplankton could be correlated with the concentration levels of nutrients and total coliform, and whether these differences could be related to differences between a large bay environment and a small bay environment. We also determined whether the two coastal environments experienced similar or different nutrient conditions in time. If the conditions co-varied this project would demonstrate the dominance of oceanographic forcing at scales greater than 50 kilometers. Alternatively, no temporal similarities between sites would indicate the importance of site specific terrestrial point sources or other local conditions.

The data from this study could be used to help make decisions regarding waste management and runoff in local areas. The information from this study shows that there is varying terrestrial influences along the coast and each site needs to be viewed according to the local data and resources available.

Nutrients are necessary for the growth of photosynthetic algae or phytoplankton in the marine ecosystem. Nutrients are naturally occurring and vital to maintain a productive marine ecosystem (McPhee-Shaw et al., 2007). At a steady state phosphate and nitrate tend to follow the Redfield ratio of 1:16 respectively in seawater samples (Libes, 1992). However, it has been shown that excess nutrients in the coastal marine environment can cause phytoplankton to grow in high concentrations forming algal blooms (Lundholm et al. 2007). Algal blooms can be harmful to other organisms in their marine environment by causing an anoxic or oxygen depleted environment. Another effect of an algal bloom can be the increased domoic acid concentration which is produced by certain species of phytoplankton. Some terrestrial sources of nutrients include runoff from agricultural areas, sewage treatment facilities and the manure and uric acid produced on farms with livestock (Gilbert et al., 2005). Runoff nutrients include phosphate and nitrate. The runoff from sewage treatment facilities and farms with livestock may also contain fecal coli form bacteria which is an indicator of disease causing bacteria (EPA, 2006).

The peer reviewed literature obtained for this study was found by searching the CSUMB Library Journal Database and from colleagues and MLML advisors.

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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