Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Ridge to Reef Management Implications for the Development of an Open-Source Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen Loading Model in American Samoa

Version 1 : Received: 5 March 2020 / Approved: 6 March 2020 / Online: 6 March 2020 (03:23:41 CET)

How to cite: Shuler, C.; Comeros-Raynal, M. Ridge to Reef Management Implications for the Development of an Open-Source Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen Loading Model in American Samoa. Preprints 2020, 2020030101 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202003.0101.v1). Shuler, C.; Comeros-Raynal, M. Ridge to Reef Management Implications for the Development of an Open-Source Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen Loading Model in American Samoa. Preprints 2020, 2020030101 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202003.0101.v1).

Abstract

Excessive nutrient discharge to tropical island coastlines drives eutrophication and algal blooms with significant implications for reef ecosystem condition and provision of ecosystem services. Management actions to address nutrient pollution in coastal ecosystems include setting water quality standards for discharging surface waters. However, these standards do not account for the effects of groundwater discharge, variability in flow, or dilution, all of which may influence assessment of true nutrient impacts on nearshore reef habitats. We developed a method to estimate dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) loads to coastal zones by integrating commonly available datasets within a geospatial modeling framework for Tutuila, American Samoa. The DIN loading model integrated an open-source water budget model, water sampling results, and publically available streamflow data to predict watershed-scale DIN loading to the island’s entire coastline. When compared to surface water pathways, submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) was determined to be the most important coastal delivery mechanism of terrigenous DIN, which supports findings from other tropical islands. Onsite wastewater disposal systems were also found to be the primary anthropogenic sources DIN to coastal waters. Our island-wide DIN loading model provides a simple and robust metric to define spatially-explicit sources and delivery mechanisms of nutrient pollution to nearshore reef habitats. Understanding the sources and primary transport modes of inorganic nitrogen to nearshore reef ecosystems can have significant implications for place-based management interventions aimed at increasing the adaptive capacity of unique island ecosystems to environmental variation and disturbances.

Subject Areas

nutrient loading; geospatial model; dissolved inorganic nitrogen; water quality; island management

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