Primary controls on nitrate use in lotic systems
Carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling are often closely linked within aquatic systems, which can be manifested as tight connections between metabolism and N retention. Environmental factors, such as light and heat energy, can impact C and N use by biota via alteration of benthic standing stock development. Furthermore, disturbance events, like persistent sediment scour and deposition, can inhibit both ecosystem form and function. Such casual relationships will be investigated in Miller Creek of western Montana to elucidate the primary drivers of nitrate retention in a headwater stream.
Kimberly Bray, a M.S. student at the University of Montana, is researching ecosystem controls on nitrate retention in Miller Creek. A suite of autonomous sensors will be deployed in the headwater stream, located in southwestern Montana, to understand the casual chains that alter biological nitrate use. Additionally, experimentation with raised tiles and mesocosms will be used to investigate the role of streambed mobility as a potential inhibitor of standing stock accumulation, metabolism, and nitrate uptake.