A Tale of Two Creeks: Cedar Run and Mill Creek at Barnegat Bay, NJ

17 August 2018

Abstract: The effects of development and population growth on the condition of local mainland marsh creek habitats is an ongoing concern for coastal communities. Alterations to a marsh creek’s natural structure can give rise to unintended consequences, commonly in the form of algae blooms, stagnant waters, and high nitrogen levels. Lack of fresh water flow is especially debilitating in altered creek habitats, as it enables algae blooms and abnormal bacterial growth, potentially resulting in the water becoming a health hazard for the surrounding community. Altered creek habitats may also be unappealing or inaccessible to native species, limiting their areas for potential habituation and forcing them to shift their populations elsewhere. Comparing the biochemical constituents of highly developed and less developed areas can provide insight as to which components are most unstable following infrastructure development. The most revealing variables to compare between systems include chlorophyll levels, nutrient levels, dissolved oxygen, and water velocity (flow), as these factors are reliable indicators of the general condition of a water system. Distinguishing the biochemical components that differ most drastically between altered and unaltered areas gives a focal point to the direction of watershed protection and restoration efforts, as well as provides valuable information to guide wiser development and planning of any future marsh creek communities.

Contributors

Jess Harkness

Student Grant Awardee 2018