National Research Program


Potomac River Update

Restoration efforts improve water quality

Boat reflection with stargrass and milfoil</i>

Reflection of a boat , with stargrass (Heteranthera) and milfoil (Myriophyllum)

A recently released journal article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists indicates that the Potomac River, a major tributary to the Chesapeake Bay, is showing multiple benefits from restoration efforts. Reduced nutrients and improved water clarity have increased the abundance and diversity of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Potomac, according to direct measurements taken during the 18-year field study. More than a dozen species of SAV now co-exist in this reach of the Potomac that was almost barren in a 1978-1981 USGS study. A USGS press release and an article in Nature News provide more detailed information.

Ruhl, H.A., and Rybicki, N.B., 2010, Long-term reductions in anthropogenic nutrients link to improvements in Chesapeake Bay habitat: Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists, v. 107, no. 38, p. 16566-16570. (819 KB. published by the National Academy of Scientists with open access)

The study was supported by USGS National Research Program; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore; the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government' s Aquatic Plant Management Program; and the Fisheries Division of the District of Columbia Department of Health. For additional information, also see page Ecological Research on Wetlands and Submersed Aquatic Vegetation, or contact Nancy Rybicki, nrybicki@usgs.gov

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