SPATIO-TEMPORAL EVIDENCE OF ANTHROPOGENIC NITROGEN IN FLORIDA WATERS USING STABLE ISOTOPE ANALYSIS OF MANATEE BONES

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SPATIO-TEMPORAL EVIDENCE OF ANTHROPOGENIC NITROGEN IN FLORIDA WATERS USING STABLE ISOTOPE ANALYSIS OF MANATEE BONES

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Title: SPATIO-TEMPORAL EVIDENCE OF ANTHROPOGENIC NITROGEN IN FLORIDA WATERS USING STABLE ISOTOPE ANALYSIS OF MANATEE BONES
Author: Bacalan, Vince
Abstract: Nutrient pollution from human activities leads to coastal eutrophication and degradation of critical habitat for threatened species, including the Florida manatees (<italic>Trichechus manatus latirostris</italic>). Recovery of these damaged habitats relies on water quality assessments over a long period of time. With the absence of long-term diet and water quality data, manatee bones will serve as proxies for environmental reconstruction. Isotopic composition of skeletal nitrogen (N) reflects plants that manatees consume and the predominant N source driving primary productivity within the ecosystem. Sewage, as a consequence of rapid coastal development, is isotopically distinct from natural sources of N. Thus, &#948;15N values are predicted to increase over time and would be highest in densely-populated areas. Collagen in manatee bones were analyzed from 173 necropsied individuals since 1975. Mean &#948;15N values have decreased from 8.8 / in the 1970s to 6.3 / in 2010 mainly because fertilizer is the source of depleted N. Coastal and regional mean &#948;15N values were very high, suggesting a mixing of enriched N sources that include sewage and atmospheric deposition.
Description: Degree awarded: M.S. Biology. American University
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1961/12368
Date: 2012-10-03


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