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Staff Publications
You are currently viewing all 8 publications by Ben Fertig. You can browse/search by year/month, and search terms to view other publications in the database.

Variations of δ15N in eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) as a baseline to assess waste nitrogen sources (Presentation) Permanent Link

Presented at the 2009 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) conference in Portland, Oregon

Fertig BM, Carruthers TJB, Dennison WC, Altabet MA and Fertig EJ

Stable nitrogen isotopes (δ15N) in various plant and animal species are becoming more commonly measured to indicate sources of human and animal wastes biologically incorporated in aquatic ecosystems. δ15N in the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, was examined at three spatial scales. Oysters suspended above the bottom were deployed within Monie Bay, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, in Maryland's Coastal Bays, and in Chesapeake Bay. At all locations, δ15N in Crassostrea virginica offered a powerful tool for identifying and monitoring human and animal waste sources of nitrogen in aquatic systems. By deploying sessile filter feeders, these nitrogen sources can be interpolated spatially and integrated temporally to elucidate and focus nutrient reduction efforts on nitrogen sources that are biologically incorporated at different spatial scales.

Oyster δ15N as a bioindicator of waste nitrogen and degraded water quality in a sub-estuary of Chesapeake Bay (Poster) Permanent Link

Presented at the National Estuarine Research Reserves System (NERRS) in Pacific Grove, CA in  November 2008.

Once nitrogen from wastewater treatment plants and septic systems enters aquatic ecosystems, it is difficult to distinguish it from other sources contributing to degradation. The Monie Bay sub-estuary of Chesapeake Bay, just south of Wicomico River, is situated within the Chesapeake Bay (Maryland) National Estuarine Research Reserve. Monie Bay receives freshwater inputs from three creeks varying in watershed size and land use: residential septic systems (Monie Creek), crop fertilizer (Little Monie Creek), and wetlands/forest (Little Creek). Differences in oyster δ15N were used to identify different waste nitrogen sources.

Upstream land use affects water quality in Maryland's Coastal Bays (Newsletter) Permanent Link

Coastal lagoon ecosystems across the Delmarva Peninsula are rapidly evolving due to changing land use patterns and shifts towards intensive agriculture, particularly poultry production, and intensive rural-resi­dential development. These changes in the coastal lagoon seascape are especially evident in the northern Coastal Bays watershed of St. Martin River. This region is intensely developed in areas such as the Ocean Pines canal community, is composed of a high percentage of crop agriculture, and contains a number of poultry feeding operations. Water quality degradation continues to be an important issue in the watershed. This newsletter examines how upstream land use affects water quality.

Fine scale patterns of water quality in three regions of Marylands Coastal Bays: assessing nitrogen source in relation to land use (Report) Permanent Link

Beckert K, Fertig BM, O'Neil JM, Carruthers TJB, Wazniak C, Sturgis B, Hall M, Jones AB and Dennison WC

Intensive sampling of the Maryland Coastal Bays in May and July of 2007 served to further assess spatial patterns in nutrients, responses of biological indicators, seasons, land use, and nutrient cycling. Trends indicated degraded water quality, high tubidity, increasing total nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, high natural isotope abundance (δ15N), and low dissolved oxygen. The abundance of crop agriculture and development of the St. Martin River watershed indicates terrestrial sources of poor water quality, especially in upstream reaches, but no such land use connection has been reported for the region of Johnsons Bay. The difference between these two coastal bays may be their flushing and nutrient cycling abilities, in conjunction with adjacent land use.

Fine scale patterns of water quality in three regions of Maryland's Coastal Bays: assessing nitrogen source in relation to land use (Presentation) Permanent Link

Beckert K, Fertig BM, O'Neil JM, Carruthers TJB, Dennison WC and Fisher T

This presentation by graduate students Ben Fertig and Kris Beckert introduces preliminary results from a detailed assessment of nitrogen sources. Focusing on St.Martin River, Johnson Bay, and Sinepuxent Bay, oyster bioindicators and a suite of water quality measurements suggest that these coastal bays are vulnerable to nitrogen loads from various land uses. Trends indicated degraded water quality, high turbidity, increasing total nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, high natural isotope abundance (δ15N), and low dissolved oxygen. While terrestrial anthropogenic pressures vary within subwatersheds, water quality in these coastal bays is also influenced by differences in flushing and nutrient cycling abilities.

Linking Monie Bay watershed land use to nitrogen stable isotopes in tissues of the native eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica (Report) Permanent Link

Fertig BM, Carruthers TJB and Dennison WC

To develop the native eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, as a biological indicator of nitrogen source, linkages between stable nitrogen isotopes in its tissues and land use adjacent to deployment stations were assessed. As part of a National Estuarine Research Reserve System Graduate Research Fellowship, this study focused on the Monie Bay component of Chesapeake Bay, MD Research Reserve, which includes Monie Bay and three similar tributary creeks which vary in their surrounding land use. This report provides evidence for a relationship between oyster tissue stable nitrogen isotopes and surround land use, and further suggests both internal and external nitrogen sources relative to the Monie Bay watershed.

Biological indicators enhance water quality monitoring in Maryland's Coastal Bays (Newsletter) Permanent Link

March 2007

Nutrient point sources such as wastewater treatment plants and non-point sources including agricultural runoff degrade the water quality of Maryland's Coastal Bays through excessive nutrient loading. Identifying specific sources is difficult due to their variety and mixture. Biological indicators can identify nitrogen sources, integrate nitrogen from these sources over time, and detect biologically important nutrients. Mapping identified sources can provide targets for nutrient reduction management actions, monitor management effectiveness, and evaluate the need for increased efforts. This newsletter summarizes data from the 2004 and 2006 water quality surveys of Maryland's Coastal Bays, incorporating the macroalgae Gracilaria sp. and the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica as bioindicators.

Water quality in four regions of the Maryland Coastal Bays: assessing nitrogen source in relation to rainfall and brown tide (Report) Permanent Link

Fertig BM, Carruthers TJB, Wazniak C, Sturgess B, Hall M, Jones AB, and Dennison WC

Monitoring water quality and determining nutrient inputs is essential to assess ecosystem health. Partnering with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and the Department of Natural Resources, this study focused on four regions in Maryland's Coastal Bays. These regions, St Martins River, Public Landing, Johnson's Bay, and Chincoteague Island, were found to be nitrogen 'hotspots' by the 2004 water quality assessment study. This data report provides a spatially explicit Water Quality Index and extent of sewage / septic nitrogen incorporated by two biological indicators, the macroalgae Gracilaria, and the native oyster, Crassostrea virginica.


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