IWA Publishing

IWA Publishing

Micro-zooplankton grazing as a means of fecal bacteria removal in stormwater BMPs

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

A priority for environmental managers is control of stormwater runoff pollution, especially fecal microbial pollution. This research was designed to determine if fecal bacterial grazing by micro-zooplankton is a significant control on fecal bacteria in aquatic best management practices (BMPs); if grazing differs between a wet detention pond and a constructed wetland; and if environmental factors enhance grazing. Both 3-day grazing tests and 24-h dilution assays were used to determine grazing differences between the two types of BMP. Micro-zooplankton grazing was a stronger bacteria removal mechanism in stormwater wetlands rich in aquatic vegetation compared to a standard wet detention pond, although grazing was important in detention ponds as well. Our experiments indicated that the majority of grazers that fed on fecal bacteria were <20 μm in size. Grazing rates were positively correlated with fecal coliform abundance and increased water temperatures. Enumeration of grazers demonstrated that protozoans were significantly more abundant among wetland vegetation than in open water, and open wetland waters contained more flagellates and dinoflagellates than open wet detention pond waters. Grazing on fecal bacteria in BMPs is enhanced by aquatic vegetation, and grazing in aquatic BMPs in warmer climates should be greater than in cooler climates.

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