Spartina alterniflora δ15N as an indicator of estuarine nitrogen load and sources in Cape Cod estuaries

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Kinney, Erin L.
Valiela, Ivan
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Waste water
Salt marsh
New England
δ15N values of coastal biota have been used as indicators of land-derived N-loads and sources to estuarine systems and should respond predictably to differences in nitrogen and be sensitive to changes in nitrogen, preferably at the low end of eutrophication. We evaluated Spartina alterniflora as an indicator species of N-loads and sources of δ15N throughout the growing season, and compared the average δ15N to estuarine nitrogen loads and sources for several estuaries receiving different watershed N-loads. δ15N of S. alterniflora differed among estuaries, and these differences were maintained even as δ15N declined during the end of the growing season. δ15N values increased with increasing nitrogen loads to the subestuaries and with increasing percent wastewater-derived nitrogen load. The response of δ15N of S. alterniflora to increased N loads was greater at low N-loads, and decreased as N-loads increased, suggesting that S. alterniflora is a good indicator of incipient nitrogen load.
© The Author(s), 2018. This is the author's version of the work and is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Marine Pollution Bulletin 131A (2018): 205-211, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.04.006.
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