Eutrophication Research

Eutrophication is the degredation of water quality in aquatic systems primarily from human activities. Collectively, anthropogenic effects on nutrient inputs and trophic structures are referrred to as “cultural eutrophication”. Large basins with large human populations or intense human activities such as agriculture lead to large exports of nutrients into estuarine and coastal areas, algal blooms, and oxygen deficits in bottom waters. Understanding land usage is an important component in determining ways to help curb further eutrophication in some aquatic systems.

Related Research Programs:

Landuse in the Choptank River Watershed

With support from NASA's Land Cover/Land Use Change program, the HPL GIS group has compiled a 350 year history of land use (1660-2000) for the Choptank basin. Using a socio-economic model, historical maps, aerial photographs, and satellite imagery, the land cover trajectories for agriculture and forest have been developed for the Choptank River basin. These data sources showed that the primary deforestation of the basin was complete by 1800, and that cropland has been the dominant land cover for the last 200 years. After 1850, a slow rate of urbanization has reduced the amount of cropland from its high of 70-80% in ~1900 to the current level of ~60%.

DNR Bioassay Project

Since 1990 we have been investigating nutrient and light limitation of phytoplankton populations. Funded by Maryland DNR, this applied project provides information to the Chesapeake Bay Program Office concerning how to manage adjacent watersheds to reduce phytoplankton in tributaries and the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay.