The Nature of Nitrate and Phosphate
How does the amount of nitrate in an area affect the diversity of plant populations
in Vulture Rock Creek?
How does the amount of phosphate in an area affect the diversity of plant
populations in Vulture Rock Creek?
Nitrate tests are used to measure the concentration of nitrate ions in a water
sample. The presence of nitrate is important, as they are a source of necessary nitrogen
for plants and animals to synthesize amino acids and proteins. This is done by the
nitrogen cycle, or a conversion of nitrogen gas into useable forms for plants and
animals. Some examples of these include fertilizers, plant and animal decompositions,
and animal waste. When bodies of water contain high nitrate concentrations, it can lead
to eutrophicatrion, or the excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae. (Johnson,
On the other hand, phosphorous is also an essential nutrient for aquatic plants
and algae, but only a very small amount is needed. Like nitrate, if there is a high
concentration of phosphate, it can also lead to eutrophication. While it increases plant
and algae growth, it can be considered a pollutant, as it lowers the dissolved oxygen
levels and makes the water uninhabitable for aquatic organisms. Orthophosphates,
which will be tested in this lab, are inorganic forms of phosphates and used heavily in
fertilizers. They are introduced into water through runoff. (Johnson, Holman, &
There are three football fields and one baseball field that are regularly fertilized.
This could be a possible source of NO
in Vulture Rock Creek that runs very
close to these four fields.
Also, the presence of a retention pond located next to the
creek could alter the amount of NO
. (Pirkle, 2009)
Plant diversity is essential to most terrestrial ecosystems. Other heterotrophic
organisms depend on plants as a source of energy, mainly through food. Humans use
plants for various applications from food to fuel to medicine. Plants are also
fundamental and significant in the management of an ecosystem. They service the
protection of watersheds, moderate climate, stabilize slopes, and improve soil quality.
Thus, plant diversity and conservation is important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
(Campbell & Reece, 2005)
Nitrate and phosphate concentrations can indicate plant diversity. Nitrogen is one
of the most frequently occurring elements in living things next to hydrogen, oxygen, and
carbon. Phophorus are one of the other elements that is also needed by living
organisms. It is used in mainly in the chemical compostion of adenosine triphosphate
(ATP), a chemical essential to producing cellular energy.
(Campbell & Reece, 2005)