Climate Change and Restoration Factors Affecting Fecal Pathogen Dynamics in Wetland Systems

Start/End: February, 2008 to January, 2011

As part of a broad effort to understand how climate change may affect pathogen pollution along the coast, researchers are exploring the fate and transport of fecal pathogens through different types of wetlands. Fieldwork is being conducted at constructed and tidal wetlands in Elkhorn Slough in Monterey County, as well as at a nearby wetland adjacent to a dairy farm. Experiments are testing the influence of water flows, vegetation, water temperatures, salinities, sediment dynamics and the hydrophobicity of protozoa on pathogen loads. The pathogens under study include clinically relevant Cryptosporidium parvum, Toxoplasma gondii and Giardia duodenalis. Findings from this project will help to build and restore wetlands so as to maintain their natural filtering capacity. Research summaries will be posted on the NOAA Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s SIMoN Web site and are expected to be of interest to California’s nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the Southern Sea Otter Alliance and local watershed-protection groups.

Co-principal Investigators