Nitrogen and phosphorus addition from fecal matter of Branta canadensis (Canada geese), Chen caerulescens (Snow geese), and other migratory waterfowl can impact water quality in a lake ecosystem. Krystal Lake is an 18m deep groundwater fed abandoned limestone quarry located 2.14km from Lake Champlain, in Chazy, NY. This small aquatic system allowed us to examine the effects of nutrient loading from waterfowl without major nutrient losses due to its limited inflow and outflow. Throughout fall 2012, we measured nutrient levels (nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), sulfate, and chloride), biogenic oxygen demand, water temperature, and turbidity weekly from fixed buoy locations. We also estimated daily goose abundance using two methods; 1) once weekly visual point counts and 2) twice daily trail camera photos. Geese first arrived on the lake 11 Sept. (Branta spp.) and 17 Sept. (Chen spp.). Nutrient input calculations were based on known concentrations in excreta, from literature. We estimated that goose nutrient loading into the lake reached a maximum of 6,283g N and 1,961g P in one day. Nutrient loading for the study period totaled 40,401g N and 12,609g P from 25,733 cumulative goose days. Upon comparison of seasonal inputs with other similar sized lakes, we found that Krystal Lake experienced a disproportionately high nutrient influx. This quantity of nutrient input from migratory waterfowl will likely lead to eutrophication.
Student poster, Center for Earth and Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh