Miller Kenneth M.

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Kenneth M.

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  • Preprint
    Integrating monitoring and genetic methods to infer historical risks of PCBs and DDE to common and roseate terns nesting near the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site (Massachusetts, USA)
    ( 2016-09) Nacci, Diane E. ; Hahn, Mark E. ; Karchner, Sibel I. ; Jayaraman, Saro ; Mostello, Carolyn ; Miller, Kenneth M. ; Blackwell, Carma Gilchrist ; Nisbet, Ian C. T.
    Common and roseate terns are migratory piscivorous seabirds with major breeding colonies within feeding range of the PCB-contaminated New Bedford Harbor (NBH, MA, USA) Superfund site. Our longitudinal study shows that before PCB discharges into NBH ceased (late 1970s), tern eggs had very high but variable PCB concentrations. But egg concentrations of PCBs as well as DDE, the degradation product of the ubiquitous global contaminant DDT, have since declined. Rate constants for temporal decline of PCB congeners in tern eggs varied inversely with log10KOW (n-octanol-water partition coefficient), shifting egg congener patterns away from those characterizing NBH sediment. To estimate the toxic effects on tern eggs of PCB dioxin-like congener (DLC) exposures, we extrapolated published laboratory data on common terns to roseate terns by characterizing genetic and functional similarities in species aryl-hydrocarbon receptors (AHRs), which mediate DLC sensitivity. Our assessment of contaminant risks suggests that terns breeding near NBH were exposed historically to toxic levels of PCBs and DDE; however, acute effects on tern egg development have become less likely since the 1970s. Our approach demonstrates how comparative genetics at target loci can effectively increase the range of inference for chemical risk assessments from tested to untested and untestable species.
  • Article
    Recent nitrogen storage and accumulation rates in mangrove soils exceed historic rates in the urbanized San Juan Bay Estuary (Puerto Rico, United States)
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-11-12) Wigand, Cathleen ; Oczkowski, Autumn J. ; Branoff, Benjamin L. ; Eagle, Meagan ; Hanson, Alana ; Martin, Rose M. ; Balogh, Stephen ; Miller, Kenneth M. ; Huertas, Evelyn ; Loffredo, Joseph ; Watson, Elizabeth
    Tropical mangrove forests have been described as “coastal kidneys,” promoting sediment deposition and filtering contaminants, including excess nutrients. Coastal areas throughout the world are experiencing increased human activities, resulting in altered geomorphology, hydrology, and nutrient inputs. To effectively manage and sustain coastal mangroves, it is important to understand nitrogen (N) storage and accumulation in systems where human activities are causing rapid changes in N inputs and cycling. We examined N storage and accumulation rates in recent (1970 – 2016) and historic (1930 – 1970) decades in the context of urbanization in the San Juan Bay Estuary (SJBE, Puerto Rico), using mangrove soil cores that were radiometrically dated. Local anthropogenic stressors can alter N storage rates in peri-urban mangrove systems either directly by increasing N soil fertility or indirectly by altering hydrology (e.g., dredging, filling, and canalization). Nitrogen accumulation rates were greater in recent decades than historic decades at Piñones Forest and Martin Peña East. Martin Peña East was characterized by high urbanization, and Piñones, by the least urbanization in the SJBE. The mangrove forest at Martin Peña East fringed a poorly drained canal and often received raw sewage inputs, with N accumulation rates ranging from 17.7 to 37.9 g m–2 y–1 in recent decades. The Piñones Forest was isolated and had low flushing, possibly exacerbated by river damming, with N accumulation rates ranging from 18.6 to 24.2 g m–2 y–1 in recent decades. Nearly all (96.3%) of the estuary-wide mangrove N (9.4 Mg ha–1) was stored in the soils with 7.1 Mg ha–1 sequestered during 1970–2017 (0–18 cm) and 2.3 Mg ha–1 during 1930–1970 (19–28 cm). Estuary-wide mangrove soil N accumulation rates were over twice as great in recent decades (0.18 ± 0.002 Mg ha–1y–1) than historically (0.08 ± 0.001 Mg ha–1y–1). Nitrogen accumulation rates in SJBE mangrove soils in recent times were twofold larger than the rate of human-consumed food N that is exported as wastewater (0.08 Mg ha–1 y–1), suggesting the potential for mangroves to sequester human-derived N. Conservation and effective management of mangrove forests and their surrounding watersheds in the Anthropocene are important for maintaining water quality in coastal communities throughout tropical regions.