Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2014 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Effects of contaminants on biofilms in artificial streams and composition of Gwynns Falls biofilms
Lee, Sylvia
Co-Authors: Emma Rosi-Marshall, John Kelly, Sujay Kaushal, Alexis Paspalof, and Erinn Richmond

Abstract: Urban streams with direct or indirect input of waste water contain contaminants including road salt, pharmaceuticals, and illicit drugs. Contaminants have unknown consequences on ecosystem structure and function of urban streams. We found suppression of biofilm production and respiration by exposure to high concentrations of salt, anti-histamine, anti-depressants, and amphetamine in artificial streams. We are working to understand the mechanisms underlying changes in ecosystem function by examining the structure of algal and bacterial communities exposed to contaminants. We are characterizing the algal and bacterial communities along the urban-rural gradient in the Gwynns Falls watershed. So far, we found distinct diatom communities at the extremes of the gradient. We are working to understand how shifts in biofilm communities are related to concentrations of contaminants along the gradient and whether there are seasonal patterns. In conjunction with biofilm studies, we are examining the effects of contaminants on stream invertebrate community composition, growth, emergence, and behavior.