Excessive nutrient inputs from tributary streams and rivers contribute to harmful algal blooms and coastal ecosystem degradation worldwide. However, the role that small tributaries play in coastal nutrient dynamics remains unknown because most monitoring and regulatory efforts focus only on the largest tributaries. We combined a 6-d sampling effort with discharge modeling to characterize nutrient inputs from nearly all watersheds draining to the world’s fifth largest lake. We found that streams are particularly likely to promote eutrophication in coastal ecosystems because they deliver water with higher concentrations of nutrients that are readily available to algae. Thus, our findings indicate that efforts to control nutrient loading could be enhanced by looking beyond the largest tributaries to include smaller streams.
|Title||Outsized nutrient contributions from small tributaries to a Great Lake|
|Authors||Robert J Mooney, Emily H. Stanley, William C. Rosenthal, Peter Esselman, Anthony D Kendall, Peter B. McIntyre|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Great Lakes Science Center|