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Rodenburg L.A.,Rutgers University | Valle S.N.,New York Academy of Sciences | Panero M.A.,New York Academy of Sciences | Panero M.A.,New York University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Environmental Quality | Year: 2010

Mass balances on 10 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the New York-New Jersey Harbor (hereafter "the Harbor") were constructed using monitoring data from the water column, sediment, and atmosphere. Inputs considered included tributaries, atmospheric deposition, wastewater treatment plant discharges, combined sewer overflows (CSOs), and stormwater runoff. Removal processes examined included tidal exchange between the Harbor and the coastal Bight and Long Island Sound, volatilization, and accumulation or burial of sediment-bound PAHs in the Harbor. The PAHs investigated were fluorene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, perylene, benzo[ghi]perylene, indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene, and dibenz[a,h]anthracene. The results show inputs and outputs are fairly well balanced for most compounds, a finding that suggests aerobic biodegradation may not be a key loss process in this Harbor, as has been assumed in other systems. The main pathway for inputs of all PAHs is stormwater runoff. Atmospheric deposition is an important conveyor of PAHs with molecular weights ≤202 g mol-1. A principal objective of this report is to expose key data gaps, which include the need for comprehensive monitoring of both flow and PAH concentrations in stormwater and CSOs. An improved understanding of the key transmission routes of nonpoint source pollutants is essential for sustainable management of urban water resources. Copyright © 2010 by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. All rights reserved.

Bried J.T.,Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission | Bried J.T.,Oklahoma State University | Strout K.L.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission | Portante T.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
Northeastern Naturalist | Year: 2012

The floristic quality index is a widely used method for ecological condition assessments in the United States. The foundation of the index is the conservatism concept, which estimates a species' ecological sensitivity or propensity to occur in areas least altered by humans. Plant species are assigned coefficients of conservatism (CoC) where ruderal and exotic species receive the lowest scores, competitors and matrix species intermediate scores, and remnant-dependent species the highest scores. The method has spread to over half of the United States, but New York and New England still lack CoC coverage. With funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and using nine of the region's most experienced botanists, an effort was undertaken to select CoC for the complete vascular flora of each New England state and New York State. Frequency distributions and rank correlations of CoC varied widely among states, except that each flora contained a large proportion of exotic species. Few taxa were scored with low confidence, although CoC at the extreme ends of the scale tended to be scored with higher confidence than more intermediate CoC. Differences in mean CoC and other summary measures for two botanists working independently on the same state indicate estimator bias in the ranking process, and calls for additional expert opinions, more careful instruction, and calibration of botanists, or the use of objective scoring methods.

Shanley J.B.,U.S. Geological Survey | Moore R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Smith R.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Miller E.K.,Ecosystems Research Group Ltd. | And 12 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2012

MERGANSER (MERcury Geo-spatial AssessmeNtS for the New England Region) is an empirical least-squares multiple regression model using mercury (Hg) deposition and readily obtainable lake and watershed features to predict fish (fillet) and common loon (blood) Hg in New England lakes. We modeled lakes larger than 8 ha (4404 lakes), using 3470 fish (12 species) and 253 loon Hg concentrations from 420 lakes. MERGANSER predictor variables included Hg deposition, watershed alkalinity, percent wetlands, percent forest canopy, percent agriculture, drainage area, population density, mean annual air temperature, and watershed slope. The model returns fish or loon Hg for user-entered species and fish length. MERGANSER explained 63% of the variance in fish and loon Hg concentrations. MERGANSER predicted that 32-cm smallmouth bass had a median Hg concentration of 0.53 μg g -1 (root-mean-square error 0.27 μg g -1) and exceeded EPA's recommended fish Hg criterion of 0.3 μg g -1 in 90% of New England lakes. Common loon had a median Hg concentration of 1.07 μg g -1 and was in the moderate or higher risk category of >1 μg g -1 Hg in 58% of New England lakes. MERGANSER can be applied to target fish advisories to specific unmonitored lakes, and for scenario evaluation, such as the effect of changes in Hg deposition, land use, or warmer climate on fish and loon mercury. © 2012 American Chemical Society.

Lambert K.F.,Harvard University | Evers D.C.,Biodiversity Research Institute | Warner K.A.,Oceana Therapeutics | King S.L.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission | Selin N.E.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Environmental Research | Year: 2012

Mercury is a global pollutant and presents policy challenges at local, regional, and global scales. Mercury poses risks to the health of people, fish, and wildlife exposed to elevated levels of mercury, most commonly from the consumption of methylmercury in marine and estuarine fish. The patchwork of current mercury abatement efforts limits the effectiveness of national and multi-national policies. This paper provides an overview of the major policy challenges and opportunities related to mercury in coastal and marine environments, and highlights science and policy linkages of the past several decades. The U.S. policy examples explored here point to the need for a full life cycle approach to mercury policy with a focus on source reduction and increased attention to: (1) the transboundary movement of mercury in air, water, and biota; (2) the coordination of policy efforts across multiple environmental media; (3) the cross-cutting issues related to pollutant interactions, mitigation of legacy sources, and adaptation to elevated mercury via improved communication efforts; and (4) the integration of recent research on human and ecological health effects into benefits analyses for regulatory purposes. Stronger science and policy integration will benefit national and international efforts to prevent, control, and minimize exposure to methylmercury. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Smith A.J.,NY Environmental Conservation | Tran C.P.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission | Tran C.P.,New York University
Journal of the North American Benthological Society | Year: 2010

Cultural eutrophication of surface waters has become a major source of water-quality impairment throughout the US. In response, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has devised a national strategy for the development of regional nutrient criteria. Our study is part of New York State's effort to revise its narrative nutrient standard for N and P and is based on the USEPA's recommended weight-of-evidence approach. The objective of our investigation was to identify nutrient thresholds based on a final weighted average of results from percentile analysis, nonparametric deviance reduction (changepoint), and cluster analysis. The thresholds were determined from shifts in biological community structure (benthic macroinvertebrate and diatom) related to water-column nutrient data from 40 large river sites throughout New York State. USEPA's percentile analysis yielded possible criteria of 0.023 mg total P (TP)/L, 0.51 mg total N (TN)/L, 0.16 mg NO3-N /L, and 2.4 mg chlorophyll a (chl a)/m3. Threshold responses in benthic macroinvertebrate metrics at the 50th percentile occurred at concentrations between 0.009 and 0.07 mg TP/L, 0.41 and 1.2 mg TN/L, 0.18 and 0.55 mg NO3-N/L, and 2.1 mg chl a/m3. Cluster analysis yielded 3 groups of sites based on macroinvertebrate and diatom taxa. The median nutrient values of the medium-nutrient-condition site clusters were used to set criteria for TP and TN. For site clusters based on macroinvertebrate data these values were 0.037 mg TP/L and 0.68 mg TN/L. For clusters based on diatom data these were 0.037 mg TP/L and 0.78 mg TN/L. Based on the weight-of-evidence approach and results from all 3 methods, the proposed guidance values for nutrients in large rivers are 0.03 mg TP/L, 0.7 mg TN/L, 0.3 mg NO 3-N/L, and 2.2 mg chl a/m3. These values are similar to those derived by others and provide meaningful nutrient endpoints that would be protective of aquatic life in large rivers. © 2010 The North American Benthological Society.

Sawyers J.E.,Central Michigan University | Sawyers J.E.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission | McNaught A.S.,Central Michigan University | King D.K.,Central Michigan University
Journal of Paleolimnology | Year: 2015

Lake Geneserath is located on Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. It exhibits evidence of recent eutrophication, despite limited anthropogenic activity in the watershed. The primary goal of this study was to determine the time scale of trophic state change in Lake Geneserath and the influence of multiple stressors. Sediment cores from the shallow northern and deep southern basins of Lake Geneserath were collected and sectioned at 0.5-cm intervals over the topmost 10 cm and at 1.0-cm intervals for the remainder of the core. Total phosphorus, percent organic matter, and chlorophyll derivative concentrations were measured in each section, and core chronology was established using 210Pb. Diatom assemblages were quantified from evenly distributed sections in each core. Geochemical variables in the southern basin core indicate historic (AD ~ 1450–1650) and modern (1848-present) periods of eutrophication, coincident with human disturbance and climate warming events. Geochemical variables in the northern basin core confirm accelerating eutrophication after 1950. The fossil diatom assemblages in both basins shifted from species favoring low nutrients to more nutrient-tolerant taxa. A change from periphytic to planktonic diatom species, concurrent with reduced percent organic matter in the northern basin core, indicates rising water level during the second half of the twentieth century. Lake Geneserath was subject to multiple stressors and its trophic status increased with recent residential development and climate warming. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Sardinas H.S.,University of California at Berkeley | Tom K.,University of California at Berkeley | Tom K.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission | Ponisio L.C.,University of California at Berkeley | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Applications | Year: 2016

The delivery of ecosystem services by mobile organisms depends on the distribution of those organisms, which is, in turn, affected by resources at local and landscape scales. Pollinator-dependent crops rely on mobile animals like bees for crop production, and the spatial relationship between floral resources and nest location for these central-place foragers influences the delivery of pollination services. Current models that map pollination coverage in agricultural regions utilize landscape-level estimates of floral availability and nesting incidence inferred from expert opinion, rather than direct assessments. Foraging distance is often derived from proxies of bee body size, rather than direct measurements of foraging that account for behavioral responses to floral resource type and distribution. The lack of direct measurements of nesting incidence and foraging distances may lead to inaccurate mapping of pollination services. We examined the role of local-scale floral resource presence from hedgerow plantings on nest incidence of ground-nesting bees in field margins and within monoculture, conventionally managed sunflower fields in California's Central Valley. We tracked bee movement into fields using fluorescent powder. We then used these data to simulate the distribution of pollination services within a crop field. Contrary to expert opinion, we found that ground-nesting native bees nested both in fields and edges, though nesting rates declined with distance into field. Further, we detected no effect of field-margin floral enhancements on nesting. We found evidence of an exponential decay rate of bee movement into fields, indicating that foraging predominantly occurred in less than 1% of medium-sized bees' predicted typical foraging range. Although we found native bees nesting within agricultural fields, their restricted foraging movements likely centralize pollination near nest sites. Our data thus predict a heterogeneous distribution of pollination services within sunflower fields, with edges receiving higher coverage than field centers. To generate more accurate maps of services, we advocate directly measuring the autecology of ecosystem service providers, which vary by crop system, pollinator species, and region. Improving estimates of the factors affecting pollinator populations can increase the accuracy of pollination service maps and help clarify the influence of farming practices on wild bees occurring in agricultural landscapes. © 2016 by the Ecological Society of America.

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