Decreased atmospheric nitrogen deposition effects on water and vegetation quality in Waquoit Bay

March 22, 2017 in Current Research Projects, Nitrogen, Seagrass


Ivan Valiela/ Elizabeth Elmstrom

Marine Biological Laboratory- The Ecosystems Center

Funding Source(s): WHOI Sea Grant

Distinguishing denitrifying organisms across gradients

March 22, 2017 in Climate change/Sea level rise, Current Research Projects, Microbes, Nitrogen, Sediments


Robinson W. Fulweiler(Boston University); Teri O’Meara (University of Auckland)

Funding Source(s):     Boston University, University of Auckland

Economic and societal impacts of estuarine eutrophication: Waquoit Bay

July 29, 2013 in Current Research Projects, Nitrogen

PI: Hauke-Kit Powell, WHOI
Julia Mason, WHOI Summer Student
Funding: WHOI Summer Student Program

A decade of nutrient monitoring in Waquoit Bay: Analysis of the Baywatcher Water Quality Monitoring Database

July 29, 2013 in Current Research Projects, Nitrogen

PIs: Meagan Gonneea, MIT / WHOI Joint Program, PhD Candidate, NERRS GRF
Isaiah Bolden, WHOI Summer Student, Bowdoin College
Funding: WHOI Summer Student Program

The Effects of Nitrogen-loading on Arthropod Diversity and Food-Web Dynamics in Salt Marshes

July 3, 2013 in Current Research Projects, Invertebrates, Nitrogen, Salt marsh

PIs: Gina Wimp, Georgetown University
Dan Lewis, Georgetown University
Shannon Murphy, Denver University
Funding: NSF


Sub-estuarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD), Dissolved Nutrients and the Production of Benthic Microalgae

July 3, 2013 in Algae, Current Research Projects, Groundwater, Nitrogen

PIs: Rachel Stanley, WHOI
Evan Howard, WHOI
Funding: WHOI


Microbial Community Composition of Permeable Reactive Barriers – Who Is Really Doing the Work?

June 27, 2013 in Current Research Projects, Microbes, Nitrogen

Jen BowenPIs:  Jennifer Bowen, UMASS-Boston

Ken Foreman, MBL Ecosystems Center

Funding: MIT Seagrant

Description: Permeable Reactive Barriers (PRBs) are currently being tested at the Waquoit Bay Reserve as a potential partial mitigation strategy for nutrient pollution. The barriers are designed to remove nitrogen by promoting microbially-mediated denitrification but there has been no examination of the microbial community that is responsible for the removal of the nitrogen and no attempt to understand how those microbial communities might respond to future environmental change.  This project will use molecular biology to examine how the barriers, and the periodic inundation of seawater, alter the structure and function of the microbial community. This information will help determine the best placement of the barriers to maximize their effectiveness.  Understanding how the microbial communities in the two barriers differ and under what environmental conditions the denitrifying bacteria thrive will help to guide future barrier construction, particular in the context of rising sea levels.

“Multi-Cropping Shellfish and Macroalgae for Business and Bioextraction.”

May 29, 2013 in Algae, Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Fish/shellfish, Nitrogen

Scott plus algae compressedPI: Scott Lindell, Scientific Aquaculture Program, MBL. Funding: WHOI-Seagrant
Description: Nutrient enrichment from septic systems is one of the most pressing coastal problems on Cape Cod. Towns are facing staggering costs for sewering and other solutions. This project aims to investigate whether a native seaweed, Gracilaria tikvahiae, can be co-farmed together with oysters to both soak up nutrients and produce a marketable crop.

“The Impact of Nitrogen-loading on Salt Marsh Greenhouse Gas Fluxes.”

May 29, 2013 in Carbon/greenhouse gases, Climate change/Sea level rise, Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Nitrogen, Salt marsh

DSC_0125PIs:  Serena Moseman-Valtierra, University of Rhode Island, Jianwu Tang, MBL Ecosystems Center, Kevin Kroeger, USGS-Woods Hole Science Center,
Funding: MIT Seagrant
Description: The general goal for the project is to measure potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and net CO2 uptake in coastal wetlands under a range of realistic nitrogen (N) loads and inundation (sea) levels. By meeting this goal, we aim to improve the information with which managers and policy makers can maintain and maximize ecosystem productivity, reduce harmful feedbacks of climate, and assess the potential for these ecosystems to enter C markets.

We will examine how GHG emissions from salt marshes vary along an existing gradient of anthropogenic N loading in Waquoit Bay, MA (WB-NERR). Further, we will test for relationships between N loads to the marshes and plant productivity. To investigate the influence of anticipated future increases in sea level, we will use existing gradients in marsh soil elevation (and therefore a gradient in soil water saturation and in frequency and duration of soil inundation) as a space-for-time substitution simulating future inundation of soils.

“Carbon Management in Coastal Wetlands: Quantifying Carbon Storage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Tidal Wetlands to Support Development of a Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Economic Assessment.”

May 29, 2013 in Carbon/greenhouse gases, Climate change/Sea level rise, Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Nitrogen, Salt marsh

wetlandsProject Lead: Alison Leschen, Waquoit Bay Reserve Manager
Collaborative Lead: Tonna-Marie Rogers, Waquoit Bay Coastal Training Program Coordinator
PIs: Jianwu Tang, MBL Ecosystems Center, Kevin Kroeger, USGS-Woods Hole Science Center, Neil K. Ganju, USGS-Woods Hole Science Center, Serena Moseman-Valtierra, University of RI, Omar Abdul-Aziz, Florida International Univ., Stephen Emmett-Mattox, Restore America’s Estuaries, Igino Emmer, Silvestrum, Stephen Crooks, Consultant to RAE, Pat Megonigal, Smithsonian ERC, Thomas Walker, Manomet CCS, Chris Weidman, Waquoit Bay Reserve Research Coordinator,
Funding: NERRS Science Collaborative

Increasing atmospheric concentrations of three major greenhouse gases (GHG) are the main drivers of climate change. Efforts to ameliorate rising levels of GHG include the protection and restoration of ecosystems that constitute major carbon (C) sinks and minor sources of CH4 and N2O emissions. Tidal marshes are prime candidates for such efforts as their sediments display  high C sequestration. Loss of wetlands through human impacts such as land conversion, sediment supply disruption, nutrient loading, and with sea level rise, reduces future sequestration capacity and places at risk stores of C that built up over past centuries. Improved management of coastal C and nitrogen (N), based upon sound science, is a critical first step towards mitigation of climate change and management of coastal ecosystems. Management must address N loading that has the dual impact of 1) contributing to climate change through production of N2O, and 2) reducing production of root and soil matter by plants which can decrease the C sequestration capacity and resilience of marshes to sea level rise. Recognition of the importance of coastal marine systems in terms of C storage has led to national and international efforts to place monetary value on preserving or restoring the “blue carbon” in those systems, analogous to the value placed on forests. The barrier to incorporation of tidal wetlands into C markets is the absence of agreed upon GHG offset protocols that set guidelines for monitoring and verification requirements for wetlands projects, and a lack of data and knowledge regarding C and GHG fluxes in wetlands to support model development.

The project goals are to provide scientific information that can inform both C and N management as well as wetlands protection and restoration strategies for supporting development of policy frameworks and market-based mechanisms to reduce GHG.

Project website: