Tracking Excess Nitrogen with Freshwater Mussels

Documenting past riverine nutrient conditions, which in turn may reflect excess nitrogen from farms or cities, is difficult because of the limited water chemistry monitoring. Kukolich and Dettman [2021] find that the isotopic composition of shell organic matter in three species of freshwater mussel recorded seasonal variability in chemistry of riverine suspended particulate organic matter. Chronologies developed using oxygen isotopes support a dormant winter season, indicating that most of the shell growth occurs during the warm summer months. This technique can be applied to archived specimens to evaluate past change in riverine water quality.

Citation: Kukolich, S., & Dettman, D. [2021]….

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