Blackbird Creek Monitoring Program to Study the impact of Climate Change and Land Use
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The Blackbird Creek Monitoring Program at Delaware State University continues to utilize various perspectives to study the dynamics of one of Delaware’s most pristine ecosystems. The water quality of Blackbird Creek has been constantly monitored for 3 years and correlated with the rain and storm events. Soil nutrients composition has been studied by extracting the water associated with soil aggregates and analyzing the levels of different nutrients. Soil quality is also assessed for heavy metals to identify potential human impact that may affect the health of ecosystem. Within the Blackbird Creek there is a threat to native plant communities from invasive plant species as they alter the ecosystem dynamics. Saltmarsh cord grass (Spartina alterniflora) and common reed (Phragmites australius) are the common wetland plants. Aerial mapping of the creek has been conducted to determine the area covered by invasive plant species. The microbial community structure plays a key role in soil carbon and nitrogen cycles in the ecosystem. Molecular analysis has been performed to study the microbial diversity with respect to the type of marsh grasses. This program has also incorporated the use of diatoms as biological indicators to assess the health of ecosystem and correlate that data with physical and chemical water quality data. The abundance and diversity of macro fauna such as blue crabs, fish and other significant species has also been studied. Stable isotopic analysis of these macro fauna has also been performed to study the food web. The results from this program will be helpful in addressing environmental challenges and designing management strategies.