Quantifying the Ecosystem Metabolism of a Tidal Estuary as a Consequence of Aeration

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As anthropogenic activity affects shallow estuaries it is imperative to quantify how these systems respond to changing conditions. Ecosystem metabolism is an integrative, metric to measure how ecosystems change, and can act as the focus of comparative experiments. We leveraged an aeration system, to examine the ecosystem metabolism of the estuary through comparative experiments. The aeration system allows us to study a normoxic, eutrophic ecosystem. Chapter 1 explains the causes and effects of eutrophication, with an emphasis on the connection between hypoxia and eutrophication.

In chapter 2, we describe an experiment focused on quantifying the ecosystem metabolism in a tidal, eutrophic estuary where engineered aeration has been operational since the 1980s. The aeration system provides an ideal site for addressing some of the difficulties inherent to studying eutrophication. In our experiments, we observed evidence of chemoautotrophy when the aerators were operational. Bottle methods and open water methods provided conflicting results.