Nutrient cycling in agricultural watersheds of the Great Lakes

Science Center Objects

Nutrient Cycling in Aquatic Ecosystems

Nutrients lost from agricultural areas in watersheds of the Great Lakes cause harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in some areas of the Great Lakes. Substantial efforts are being made in these watersheds to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the streams and rivers; however, additional work is needed to further reduce nutrient loads to meet international water quality standards. Limited research has been done to understand how nutrients are transformed, processed, and potentially removed in the river systems. This information is important to managers because the retention of nutrients in these river systems may be lowering the amount of nutrients entering the Great Lakes.

USGS scientist recording site information about a tributary of the Fox River near Green Bay, Wisconsin

USGS scientist recording site information about a tributary of the Fox River near Green Bay, Wisconsin

(Credit: Lynn Bartsch, USGS-Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center. Public domain.)

The objectives of this research project are to characterize rates of sediment nitrogen removal and phosphorus retention in agricultural watersheds of the Great Lakes and to assess how land use and agricultural land management actions affect these rates. Two high priority watersheds are being studied for this project: the Maumee River Basin which empties into Lake Erie and the Fox River Basin which drains into Lake Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USGS scientist measuring sediment pH in a sample taken from a tributary of the Maumee River in Ohio

USGS scientist measuring sediment pH in a sample taken from a tributary of the Maumee River in Ohio

(Credit: Patrik Perner. Public domain.)

 

USGS scientist collecting a water sample in a tributary of the Fox River near Portage, Wisconsin

USGS scientist collecting a water sample in a tributary of the Fox River near Portage, Wisconsin

(Credit: Rebecca Kreiling, USGS-Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center. Public domain.)