Discipline: Ecology, Environmental & Earth Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Maruthi Sridhar Balaji Bhaskar - Texas Southern University
Heavy metals such as mercury (Hg) and methylmercury (MeHg) are the major contaminants to the biotic community in several watersheds around the world. The East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC) watershed has been polluted and received effluents over the years by the action of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facility in the upstream of the creek. The overall goal of this study is to identify the effect of land cover changes on the Hg bioaccumulation trends in EFPC. The objectives of this study are 1) to conduct a comprehensive historical quantitative analysis of the EFPC Hg data; 2) to carry out temporal change analysis of EFPC watershed by using remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS); and 3) to develop a geospatial database for EFPC and to analyze the Hg and other metal concentrations in the water samples collected along the EFPC. The trends of Hg bioaccumulation in Redbreast fish (Lepomis auritus), Bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus), Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio), Large Mouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), and Rock Bass (Ambloplite rupestris) were evaluated and modelled to see the level of bioaccumulation pattern in these fish species. Analysis of our Hg bioaccumulation trends indicated that the Hg accumulation in the Lower EFPC increased and Upper EFPC decreased with time in Redbreast Sunfish. Our satellite image analysis indicated that the impervious surface increased by construction of buildings and roads along the lower EFPC. Also, vegetation content decreased along the lower EFPC compared to the upper EFPC. One factor for increase in Hg bioaccumulation in lower EFPC is the increase in impervious surface in the lower EFPC watershed, thus resulting in increased runoff and Hg accumulation downstream of EFPC.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): We acknowledge the NSF for funding this project and ORNL for facilities and support.
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,