Casey Gustowarow - Nutrient Lab

McDaniel College, Westminster, MD


Casey was an intern in the Nutrient Lab and worked under the direction of Dr. Thomas Jordan. This summer, he actually worked both at SERC and also at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, under Dr. Marilyn Fogel, on a joint project between the two institutions to examine the fate of anthropogenic nitrogen from chicken farming on the Delmarva Peninsula. Nutrient analysis of water samples at SERC was used to investigate the input of nitrogen loads into watersheds affected by intensive chicken farming. At Carnegie, stable isotope analysis of aquatic organisms was utilized to examine the incorporation of this nitrogen pollution into the food web. The relatively pristine forested Rhode River near SERC was used as a control site and was compared to the Nanticoke and Indian Rivers, two watersheds affected by chicken farming on the Delmarva Peninsula. Casey found that each watershed had unique but distinct trends when analyzing nitrogen isotope ratios of aquatic organisms, reflecting different land use patterns. Nitrogen isotope ratios of organisms were much higher in areas where chicken farming was most intensive or where other forms of nitrogen pollution were prevalent. This research may build the groundwork for using nitrogen stable isotope analysis to track the scope and extent of nitrogen pollution as well as its incorporation into the food web within the Chesapeake Bay tributaries and other bodies of water.

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