Improving the ability to study coastal nutrient dynamics through the development of high-resolution water samplers
Globally, marine ecosystems are experiencing fundamental shifts in their structure and function. Due to the high level of interconnectedness between aquatic organisms and their environment, they are highly sensitive to changes in water chemistry. For example, coral reefs thrive in water that generally contains very low concentrations of macronutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.1 An increase in these compounds as a result of human activities on land can have drastic impacts on coral health.2 In order to fully understand the cycling, fates and impacts of chemical compounds in the marine environment, it is critical to collect concentration data on the temporal and spatial scales at which they fluctuate.3 Nutrient concentrations on nearshore coral reefs can vary by orders of magnitude on very small temporal (hours) and spatial (meters) scales.1 Two of the most common methods of collecting water chemistry data are through bottle sampling by hand (spot sampling) or in-situ analyzers. These methods support the collection of data with either high spatial, or high temporal resolution, but cannot feasibly provide both.3-5 In-situ analyzers are capable of collecting data with high temporal resolution, but their high cost and complexity effectively limits their deployment on large spatial scales. The collection of water samples, allows for a variety of analyses to be conducted on the same water sample, including those that could not be conducted in-situ. Spot sampling has a relatively low-cost per sample, but requires large efforts to increase resolution.3-5 With support from the Link Foundation Fellowship, I developed a simple, low-cost and highly adaptable water sampling system that can collect high resolution water chemistry data in both space and time.