linking land to oceans

How can we better understand the effect of land use management on ecosystems long away from that management?

Terrestrial ecosystems are intrinsically linked to marine ecosystems through material and nutrient delivery. For this reason, decisions about terrestrial land use and land management can have a disproportionate and unintended impact on ecosystems far from where land management decisions are made. For this project, we were interested in determining the effect of terrestrial land management on near shore ocean ecosystems. We used stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen as a way to trace where compounds containing those important elements originated.Carbon isotopes provide clues to the original source of photosynthetic inputs and nitrogen isotopes provide clues about the structure of aquatic food webs. This project focused on coastal Maine; along the coastline we found variability in land use and land cover, variability in stable isotope fish samples, and that the variability of the stable isotopes was related to the land cover and land use. These results highlight the interconnectedness of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and the effect that land use has on ocean systems. This work is ongoing and preliminary.

Date: 2016 – present
Location: Coastal Maine
Organization: University of New England
Collaborators/Credits: This project was lead by Eric Chapman. Collaborators include Dr. Carrie Byron at the University of New England, and Dr. Karen Wilson and Dr. Theodore Willis at the University of Southern Maine

Product: Chapman EJ, Byron CJ. Linking terrestrial land use with coastal ecosystems using a watershed approach with stable isotopes. In preparation.