Friday, February 22, 2013

Importance of Wetlands

Nutrients are essential to life in many different ways.  For example, too much nitrate can become toxic to stream life, or too much phosphate can cause an excess growth of algae, thus depleting oxygen from streams and killing aquatic life (  These are just a few examples of how nutrient balance is crucial to stream ecosystem health. The study site is the Municipal Stadium Wetland, located just east of Buck Creek.  It is important as to capture pollutants and impurities from Buck Creek, so constant analysis of the Wetland's contents is crucial.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Why We Need Wetlands

Nutrients are important for every organism to grow and develop. We provide these nutrients often in the form of fertilizers which help everything grow. Fertilizers can be great and are loaded with nutrients like nitrate and phosphate that run off into rivers and streams. This over abundance of nutrients allows for overgrowth of algae and an imbalance of sustainability of the ecosystem. Too many nutrients deplete the oxygen which endanger life and create dead zones like those seen in the Gulf of Mexico. Wetlands were once drained because they were considered wasteland but we now know that wetlands like the kidneys in our bodies have a filtering function. Municipal Stadium Wetland is located parallel to Buck Creek in Springfield OH with an upstream inlet from the river that allows for overflow during flood events.

Melt water from Municipal Stadium Wetland making its way back into Buck Creek at the downstream outflow.

Buck Creek like many rivers in Ohio contains a lot of sediment and nutrients. During flood events this sediment can be filtered through the Municipal Stadium Wetland helping to clean up the quality of the water by settling out sediment and nutrients. it also acts as a storage area for water. It is winter in the wetland and there is some outflow downstream due to melting ice and input from ground water in the wetland. We will be examining the amounts of nitrogen and phosphate in the water to help us determine if the balance of nitrogen to phosphate is correct for sustaining life. We will also look at the affect Municipal Stadium wetland
is having on the Buck Creek.


What Can Wetlands Do For You?

As spring time approaches you begin to see a lot of changes in the air.  Flowers start blooming and animals start to come out of hibernation.  But what I notice as an environmentalist is the beginning of fertilizing season on farm lands.  These fertilizers are very rich in nutrients, containing both nitrates and phosphates.  These are very vital to life, yet they can be very hazardous.  If too many nitrates and phosphates enter our waterways through rainwater runoff, an imbalance of nutrients can occur.  If too many nitrates enter a water system this can cause an algae bloom, and when this algae dies, it consumes a lot of oxygen in the water, thus creating a dead zone.  These dead zones have been occurring in various places such as the Chesapeake Bay, Lake Erie, Lake St. Mary’s in Ohio, and in the Gulf of Mexico.  One way to try to prevent and lessen the extra amounts of nutrients entering our water ways is wetlands.  Wetlands provide almost a “buffer” area.  Wetlands help filter out excess sediment that pollutes our water ways and can help absorb the extra chemicals and nutrients that have been put into our waterways by fertilizing. 

The wetland that we are studying is the Municipal Stadium Wetland that runs parallel to Buck Creek.  Upstream there is an inlet that allows high flood water from Buck Creek into the wetland.  Flood water is able to flow through the wetland during these high flows; nutrients, as well as sediments can be filtered out before it moves out of the wetland downstream at the outlet.  Flood water is not the only input to the wetland; groundwater is also fed up in some areas.  In a way this wetland acts as a kidney to the river by detoxifying it before it recharges back into the river.  By taking water samples in both Buck Creek and the Municipal Stadium Wetland we hope to find out if the wetland is making a significant positive impact on the quality of Buck Creek.  The wetland may have opportunities to retain and filter out the nitrogen or phosphate overloads mentioned before to restore a healthier stream ecosystem in Buck Creek.  We hope that we can gain a better understanding of the relationship between the wetland and river over the next semester by studying water samples in both.

To learn more about wetlands and their functions visit:

By: Beth Wilson and Lexi Crisp

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A New Semester: Wetland Research Carries On!

Elizabeth Wilson and Grant Goodwin install an automatic water sampler at the Municipal Stadium Wetland, Springfield, Ohio.
It is late winter in Springfield and a new class carries on the work of the Geology Critical Zone (Geol 170) predecessors. This semester, upper-level Wittenberg geology and chemistry students in Wetland Biogeochemistry (Geology 460) carry on Critical Zone research of nutrient behavior in the Municipal Stadium Wetland. Their task, to conduct more in-depth biogeochemical research at the wetland collecting higher resolution samples, using more advanced laboratory instrumentation, and presenting research at the Geological Society of America Meeting in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The wetland was visibly melting on Wednesday and two ISCO automatic water samplers were installed. One sampler went into the wetland (above) and the other just above the inflow to the wetland in Buck Creek.  It was good to get outside!