Use of N stable isotope ratios in bivalve shell to trace anthropogenic N sources

Project Leader: Dr. Ruth Carmichael

Project Details

This work involves isolation and analysis of stable isotope ratios in organic material from whole shells or annual bands of bivalve shells. These data are applied to trace historical changes in land-derived N loads to estuaries and into estuarine ecosystems. The data are useful to discern the relative importance of anthropogenic change compared to natural environmental variation through time in coastal systems. This is a highly competitive area of research, and the ability to historically reconstruct N inputs to coastal waters is a valuable management tool.

Specific projects

A comparison of pre-treatment methods for δ15 analysis N analysis in mollusk shells—A methods using a variety of shell types. Impacts of Land Use Change and Nitrogen Source Shifts Through Time: Building Capacity for Collaborative Research Leadership at the Grand Bay Reserve—This work examines organic and inorganic stable isotope ratios in oyster and clam shells from ancient middens in the region. Results will set a pre-urbanization baseline for comparison to modern shell. N in bivalve shells trace variation in wastewater entry to coastal waters—This work defines spatial and temporal variation in N inputs to coastal waters using stable isotope ratios in shell.