Eutrophication: Water Quality Parameters

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The Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms and Eutrophication

Eutrophication, by definition, is a process where bodies of water receive excess nutrients that stimulate excessive plant growth. Eutrophication results from continuous pollution in the form of agricultural run-offs or sewage outflows. Fertilizers and sewage are both rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, which are both nutrients essential for plant growth. However, these nutrients are typically low in content in aquatic environments, which limits the growth of algae and plants, but with an increased amount of these nutrients, more plants are able to grow, disrupting the natural environment. Eutrophication is becoming more and more common throughout the world. One main plant growth of concern is that of harmful algal blooms, or HABS. Harmful algal blooms are the first stage of eutrophication. They turn water different colors, such as red, mahogany, brown, and even green. This was the case along the coast of Guangdong in southern China. Here, the algal blooms “inflicted significant negative impacts on the society” and “devastated aquaculture and destroyed natural marine ecosystems.” (Qi et. al 2004) Harmful algal blooms affect more than just bodies of water, however. They affect everything in the water and anything that consumes something from that body of water, from plankton to humans.

Nutrient loading will appear to have a positive effect on plant growth in the beginning, causing them to grow quickly. In this experiment, the “high” aquarium plants will probably begin growing much faster than those of the “control” aquarium. However, after a few weeks they will probably begin regressing or even dying, while the “control” and even “moderate” plants are thriving. Through this experiment, I hope to gain a better understanding of the effects of agricultural runoff on surrounding aquatic environments. The experiment will provide a hands on look at eutrophication and its effects on my...
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