Anthropogenic Ecotone

Collecting soils from a suburban tidal creek (Jacksonville, FL) to test the effects of stormwater pulses on soil carbon dynamics.

Collecting soils from a suburban tidal creek (Jacksonville, FL) to test the effects of stormwater pulses on soil carbon dynamics.

As the population grows, human settlements are expanding into more ecologically sensitive areas and the impact of human-derived pollutants are becoming clear. Our work at the anthropogenic ecotone addresses: 1) how the juxtaposition of human development and natural areas affects ecological processes, and 2) how human-derived pollutants are processed and transported within natural systems. Past research in this area includes: understanding how stormwater discharge from coastal communities impacts salt marsh resilience and function; quantifying the effects of dams/reservoirs on greenhouse gas production in the riparian and littoral zones of rivers and lakes; and evaluating the consequences of winter road salt application on soil ecology.

Currently, we are working with collaborators to quantify the load of microplastics (polyethylene, plastic polymers, and synthetic fibers <5 mm in diameter) in the Mississippi River watershed; these pollutants will eventually make their way into the Gulf of Mexico.  It is estimated that >90% of plastics in the surface ocean are microplastics, and the densely populated Mississippi River basin is likely to be a significant source.

Investigating changes in the riparian corridor as the result of upstream dam construction.

Investigating changes in the riparian corridor as the result of upstream dam construction.

Current Funding:

2016-2017- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Marine Debris Program- Quantifying and Characterizing the Mississippi River’s Contribution of Microplastic Debris to the Gulf of Mexico.  PI: J.L. Conkle; co-PIs: E.A. Hasenmuller, L.G. Chambers, J.R. White

Past Funding:

2014-2015- Saint Louis University, Presidential Research Fund- Identification of Regional Sites, Data Sources, and Collaborations to Support Studies of Sustainable River-Reservoir Systems.  PI: A.L. Cox; Co-PI: L.G. Chambers and D.M. Hanes

2011-2012- Florida Sea Grant, Nutrient Dynamics Graduate Research Grant – Urban Stormwater, Carbon Cycling, and Sea Level Rise

Relevant Publications:

Chambers, L.G., Chin, Y.-P., Filippelli, G.M., Gardner, C.B., Herndon, E.M., Long, D.T., Lyons, B.W., Macpherson, G.L., McElmurry, S.P., McLean, C.E., Moore, J. Moyer, R.P., Neumann, K., Nezat, C.A., Soderberg, K. Teutsch, N. and E. Widom (2016) Developing the scientific framework for urban geochemistry.  Applied Geochemistry DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.01.005.

Chambers, L.G., Osborne, T.Z., and K.R. Reddy. (2013) Effect of salinity pulsing events on soil organic carbon loss along an intertidal wetland gradient: A laboratory experiment. Biogeochemistry 115: 363-383.