Rhode Island Nitrogen Cycle Differs in Bay and Sound

Rhode Island Sea Grant-funded researcher Jeremy Rich from Brown University is highlighted for his work revealing the lack of a key nitrogen cycling process in Narragansett Bay.

Anaerobic ammonium oxidation—anammox— is a recently discovered mechanism by which nitrogen moves between bottom sediments and the water column, mediated by anaerobic bacteria, which don’t need oxygen to sustain life. It’s been found to be a very significant component of nitrogen cycling in marine systems, accounting for up to 67 percent of nitrogen loss in some areas.

“Past research suggested anammox might be increasing in importance in the bay, but there was not any data to back it up. What we’re showing is it’s barely even there,” Rich said. “What’s wrong with the nitrogen cycle in lower Narragansett Bay? Why don’t we have anammox? Have we disturbed it to the point where we are missing this process?”
Rich’s study is published in the Journal of Limnology and Oceanography and raises interesting questions about nitrogen removal in the Bay and why processes differ so greatly in Rhode Island Sound.

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