Nutrient concentrations in most U.S. streams are too high, study finds

Contact: Amy D. Rosemond,

image of aerial view of the Missouri River

One of the major challenges threatening our waterways today is a phenomenon known as nutrient pollution. Nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that are a natural part of aquatic ecosystems like streams and rivers, can have lasting impacts on the environment and public health when their concentrations exceed certain thresholds.

In a new study published in Ecological Applications, a team of researchers with ties to the University of Georgia analyzed data to better understand nutrient transport in streams and rivers across the United States.

Lead author David Manning, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who received his doctorate from the Odum School of Ecology in 2015, says the findings suggest most U.S. streams and rivers have higher levels of nitrogen and phosphorus than is recommended for protecting ecological integrity.

The paper’s coauthors are Professor Amy D. Rosemond and doctoral student Phillip M. Bumpers of the Odum School, and alumni Jonathan P. Benstead, PhD ‘01, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama, and John S. Kominoski, PhD ‘08, an associate professor of biological sciences at Florida International University.

Read more: New study finds nutrient concentrations in U.S. waterways are too high, by Courtni Kopietz, University of Nebraska Communications.