Date of Award

5-2005

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Andrew Reeve

Second Committee Member

J. Steve Kahl

Third Committee Member

Robert Lent

Abstract

The Northeast Creek/ Fresh Meadow watershed is home to Acadia National Park's (ANP) largest wetland system. This wetland is potentially threatened by residential development occurring within its watershed, but outside the protection of ANP boundaries. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has performed a two-year study monitoring surface-water hydrology and nutrient concentrations to collect baseline data and to construct a water-budget. However, subsurface inputs to the wetland were not thoroughly assessed. The potential for anthropogenic nutrient loading and the potential for nutrient-rich runoff to infiltrate shallow groundwater makes the Fresh Meadow wetland a model system in which to examine nitrogen inputs from shallow groundwater.

Therefore, the primary objectives of this study, based on a working hypothesis that nutrient inputs were entering the Fresh Meadow Wetland via groundwater from nearby newly developed areas, were: 1) quantify groundwater flow to Aunt Betsey's Brook 2) determine nutrient concentrations of the groundwater within a study area and 3) calculate a nitrogen flux to Aunt Betsey's Brook, and compare it to surface water and atmospheric loads in the wetland.

Groundwater hydrology and nutrient concentrations were sampled over a 7 month period using monitoring wells set up along a t-shaped transect that spanned the shoreline of both Northeast Creek and Aunt Betsey's Brook to the adjacent upland forest; this area was approximately 15% of Fresh Meadow Wetland. Surface-water data was collected at the headwaters of Aunt Betsey's Brook and French Hill Brook; this data was combined with three previous years of USGS data. Precipitation data was collected from the NADP site at McFarland Hill, ANP.

The flux of water through the surface-water (52391 m3/month), was larger than the water flux from precipitation to the study area (7464 m3/month) or groundwater flux to the creek bank (1.01 m3/month). Despite, the nitrogen concentrations in the groundwater (10.2 mg/L) being greater than nitrogen from precipitation (1.45 mg/L) or surface-water loads (0.45 mg/L), the overall nitrogen flux to Aunt Betsey's Brook from the groundwater in the study area was not significant (0.01 kg/month).

Hydrologic and nutrient data collected from this study will contribute new data to the existing water and nitrogen budget, making it more complete and provide information for making future management decisions by the National Park Service and the town of Bar Harbor.

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