Water Quality

The nuisance algae, Lyngbya, which is proliferating in many of the freshwater coastal springs in Florida. We are studying what environmental factors are contributing to its’ growth.


The nuisance algae, Lyngbya, which is proliferating in many of the freshwater coastal springs in Florida. We are studying what environmental factors are contributing to its’ growth.

Increased nutrient concentrations, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, degrade water quality and contribute to ecological problems such as algae blooms and fish kills. Wetlands and riparian areas serve as natural water filters by providing an environment that promotes the uptake and transformation of nutrients and other pollutants. We conduct research aimed at finding natural, cost-effective ways of utilizing ecosystem processes to address real-world water quality concerns.  This work includes studying the efficiency of constructed wastewater treatment wetlands and natural wetlands at removing nutrients and other pollutants.

More recently, our lab has also begun evaluating the effectiveness of coastal restoration projects in mimicking the ecosystem services provided by natural systems.  Specifically, we are working with a team of interdisciplinary scientists to determine the ecological impact of oyster reefs and living shoreline restorations on both the natural and human system (e.g., how does engaging in ecosystem restoration impact the resilience of the environment and the local community?).  The ABL is spearheading the effort to determine the role of restored oyster reefs and living shorelines in sequestering, storing, and transforming carbon and nutrients that may otherwise contribute to coastal eutrophication.

Testing the effects of different nitrate concentrations on soil denitrification rates.

Testing the effects of different nitrate concentrations on soil denitrification rates.

Current Funding:

2016-2019- National Science Foundation, Coupled Natural Human Systems- Restoration and Resilience in Coupled Human-Natural Systems: Reciprocal Dynamics of a Coastal ‘Lagoon in Crisis.’ PI: L.J Walters; Co-PIs: L.G. Chambers, T. Hawthorne, K. Kiber, F. Rivera, and G. Cook

2016- Desert Research Institute- Understanding the potential for oyster reef restoration to enhance denitrification in Indian River Lagoon.  PI: L.G. Chambers

Past Funding:

2014-2015- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Five Star and Urban Waters- Lower Meramec Hands-On Stewardship & Watershed Education. PI: K. Dockery; Co-PIs: L.G. Chambers and L. Reuter

2005-2007- US Environmental Protection Agency, Section 319 Non-Point Source Pollution Grant- Honey Creek Stream Bank Repair; West Fork Restoration & Conservation.  PI: Honey Creek Watershed Association.

Relevant Publications:

Gardner, L.M. and J.R. White (2010) Denitrification Enzyme Activity as an Indicator of Nitrate Movement through a Diversion Wetland. Soil Sci. Society of Am. J. 74:1037-1047.

White, J.R., Gardner, L.M., Sees, M., and R. Corstanje (2008) The short-term effects of prescribed burning on biomass removal and the release of nitrogen and phosphorus in a treatment wetland. Journal of Environmental Quality 1111137:2386-2391.