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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

EFFECTS OF SEA BIRD POPULATIONS ON NUTRIENT LEVELS IN GEORGIA'S COASTAL ESTUARIES

Abstract

The ecological importance and economical value of estuaries has driven extensive water quality monitoring of Georgia saltmarshes. Nutrient levels are especially important because the organisms within the estuary depend on phosphates and nutrients for growth, but too much can cause anoxic conditions and the entire ecosystem can fail. We investigated the nutrient levels (nitrates, phosphates, and ammonia) at several sites in Brunswick, GA along the Fancy Bluff Creek over the course of a few months (late September to early November 2019), and focused on sea bird density of each site. Sea birds contribute nutrients to their ecosystems, but whether their guano has significant impacts on estuaries has not been widely studied. We used nutrient test kits and sampled each site weekly, comparing the results among sites. Our research shows that while sites with heavy bird populations did experience higher nutrient levels, they were not cause for concern and we also indicate other possible sources of nutrient levels at the sites.

Acknowledgements

College of Coastal Georgia

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