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Environments, Volume 3, Issue 4 (December 2016)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Sensitivity Analysis of a Riparian Vegetation Growth Model
Environments 2016, 3(4), 30; doi:10.3390/environments3040030
Received: 13 June 2016 / Revised: 7 November 2016 / Accepted: 11 November 2016 / Published: 17 November 2016
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Abstract
The paper presents a sensitivity analysis of two main parameters used in a mathematic model able to evaluate the effects of changing hydrology on the growth of riparian vegetation along rivers and its effects on the cross-section width. Due to a lack of
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The paper presents a sensitivity analysis of two main parameters used in a mathematic model able to evaluate the effects of changing hydrology on the growth of riparian vegetation along rivers and its effects on the cross-section width. Due to a lack of data in existing literature, in a past study the schematization proposed here was applied only to two large rivers, assuming steady conditions for the vegetational carrying capacity and coupling the vegetal model with a 1D description of the river morphology. In this paper, the limitation set by steady conditions is overcome, imposing the vegetational evolution dependent upon the initial plant population and the growth rate, which represents the potential growth of the overall vegetation along the watercourse. The sensitivity analysis shows that, regardless of the initial population density, the growth rate can be considered the main parameter defining the development of riparian vegetation, but it results site-specific effects, with significant differences for large and small rivers. Despite the numerous simplifications adopted and the small database analyzed, the comparison between measured and computed river widths shows a quite good capability of the model in representing the typical interactions between riparian vegetation and water flow occurring along watercourses. After a thorough calibration, the relatively simple structure of the code permits further developments and applications to a wide range of alluvial rivers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Potential Reduction of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions from Gas Flaring in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry through Alternative Productive Use
Environments 2016, 3(4), 31; doi:10.3390/environments3040031
Received: 25 August 2016 / Revised: 17 November 2016 / Accepted: 18 November 2016 / Published: 23 November 2016
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Abstract
Globally, climate change and its adverse effects on the human population and the environment has necessitated significant research on the sustainable use of natural resources. Gas flaring in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry causes environmental and health hazards and to a large extent,
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Globally, climate change and its adverse effects on the human population and the environment has necessitated significant research on the sustainable use of natural resources. Gas flaring in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry causes environmental and health hazards and to a large extent, culminates in yearly loss of the Nation’s revenue. The aim of the study is to highlight the potentials of converting flared gas from the Nigerian oil and gas industry to compressed natural gas (CNG) which could be an alternative fuel for the 220 Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT-Lite) while reducing CO2 emissions. In addition, the study provided an overview of gas flaring in the oil and gas industry and energy utilisation in some selected sectors in the country. The Long-range Energy Alternative Planning System (LEAP) software was employed to model the energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions from the BRT-Lite by creating a current scenario and projections to the year 2030. The use of CNG as an alternative fuel for Lagos BRT-Lite will significantly reduce CO2 emissions in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. Other utilization options for flared gas from this industry includes: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), and power generation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Illegal Hunting of Prey Species in the Northern Section of Bardia National Park, Nepal: Implications for Carnivore Conservation
Environments 2016, 3(4), 32; doi:10.3390/environments3040032
Received: 1 November 2016 / Revised: 14 November 2016 / Accepted: 21 November 2016 / Published: 29 November 2016
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Abstract
We interviewed 48 people from communities around Bardia National Park in Nepal, including ex-hunters and protected area management professionals. The purpose of the interviews was to understand the motivations for, and the nature of, illegal hunting of prey species of iconic predators—tigers and
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We interviewed 48 people from communities around Bardia National Park in Nepal, including ex-hunters and protected area management professionals. The purpose of the interviews was to understand the motivations for, and the nature of, illegal hunting of prey species of iconic predators—tigers and leopards—in the northern section of the park. Participants reported that hunting of prey species occurs mostly in spring and autumn and is less common during the summer. In the past, hunting was primarily for the purposes of obtaining meat for household consumption. Since the introduction of a road network in the region, opportunities to sell wild meat at ad hoc “highway markets” have developed. The purported medicinal properties of wild meat was also cited as a driver for illegal hunting. Guns (mostly made locally, by hand) and dogs were reported to be commonly used. Protected area managers indicated that illegal hunting problems in the study area are associated with a lack of presence of park authorities, remoteness and underdevelopment and poverty of the community. Our study suggested that skills development training for local community members might reduce dependency of local people on wild meat, for both household consumption and for income, thereby reducing illegal hunting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mountains in the Changing World)
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Open AccessArticle Perceptions of Socio-Ecological Changes and Their Implications on Changes in Farming Practises and Agricultural Land Uses in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana
Environments 2016, 3(4), 33; doi:10.3390/environments3040033
Received: 11 October 2016 / Revised: 17 November 2016 / Accepted: 29 November 2016 / Published: 1 December 2016
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Abstract
This study assesses the perceptions of local farming households in the savannahs of northeast Ghana about the patterns of ecological and social changes happening around them over the years. It then unpacks how those perceptions are influencing farming practices and agricultural land use
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This study assesses the perceptions of local farming households in the savannahs of northeast Ghana about the patterns of ecological and social changes happening around them over the years. It then unpacks how those perceptions are influencing farming practices and agricultural land use changes. Theoretical and empirical understandings of the value of local resource users’ perceptual judgements about changes in their socio-ecological environment and how they respond to those changes have far-reaching implications for design of agricultural development and sustainable land management policies. Consideration of local perceptions offers more informed basis to design and implement agricultural development policies in ways that encourage active local participation, sustainable livelihoods development, and responsiveness to changing conditions. This departs from current conventional implementation systems, which are usually top-down and based on technical and political aspects of agricultural land management, but do not necessarily comprehend processes influencing the agency of local communities in shaping various agricultural land use outcomes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Life Cycle Cost Evaluation of Noise and Vibration Control Methods at Urban Railway Turnouts
Environments 2016, 3(4), 34; doi:10.3390/environments3040034
Received: 29 August 2016 / Revised: 22 November 2016 / Accepted: 25 November 2016 / Published: 3 December 2016
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Abstract
A focus of the railway industry over the past decades has been to research, find and develop methods to mitigate noise and vibration resulting from wheel/rail contact along track infrastructure. This resulted in a wide range of abatement measures that are available for
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A focus of the railway industry over the past decades has been to research, find and develop methods to mitigate noise and vibration resulting from wheel/rail contact along track infrastructure. This resulted in a wide range of abatement measures that are available for today’s engineers. The suitability of each method must be analysed through budget and timeframe limitations, which includes building, maintenance and inspection costs and time allocation, while also aiming at delivering other benefits, such as environmental impact and durability of infrastructure. There are several situations that need noise and vibration mitigation methods, but each design allocates different priorities on a case-by-case basis. Traditionally, the disturbance caused by railways to the community are generated by wheel/rail contact sound radiation that is expressed in different ways, depending on the movement of the rolling stock and track alignment, such as rolling noise, impact noise and curve noise. More specifically, in special trackworks such as turnouts (or called “switches and crossings”), there are two types of noise that can often be observed: impact noise and screeching noise. With respect to the screeching (or flanging), its mitigation methods are usually associated with curve lubrications. In contrast, the impact noise emerges from the sound made by the rolling stock moving through joints and discontinuities (i.e., gaps), resulting in various noise abatement features to minimise such noise impact. Life cycle analysis is therefore vital for cost efficiency benchmarking of the mitigation methods. The evaluation is based on available data from open literature and the total costs were estimated from valid industry reports to maintain coherency. A 50-year period for a life cycle analysis is chosen for this study. As for the general parameters, an area with a high density of people is considered to estimate the values for a community with very strict limits for noise and vibration. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Vegetation Structure and Carbon Stocks of Two Protected Areas within the South-Sudanian Savannas of Burkina Faso
Environments 2016, 3(4), 25; doi:10.3390/environments3040025
Received: 14 August 2016 / Revised: 19 September 2016 / Accepted: 21 September 2016 / Published: 29 September 2016
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Abstract
Savannas and adjacent vegetation types like gallery forests are highly valuable ecosystems contributing to several ecosystem services including carbon budgeting. Financial mechanisms such as REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) can provide an opportunity for developing countries to alleviate poverty through
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Savannas and adjacent vegetation types like gallery forests are highly valuable ecosystems contributing to several ecosystem services including carbon budgeting. Financial mechanisms such as REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) can provide an opportunity for developing countries to alleviate poverty through conservation of its forestry resources. However, for availing such opportunities carbon stock assessments are essential. Therefore, a research study for this purpose was conducted at two protected areas (Nazinga Game Ranch and Bontioli Nature Reserve) in Burkina Faso. Similarly, analysis of various vegetation parameters was also conducted to understand the overall vegetation structure of these two protected areas. For estimating above ground biomass, existing allometric equations for dry tropical woody vegetation types were used. Compositional structure was described by applying tree species and family importance indices. The results show that both sites collectively contain a mean carbon stock of 3.41 ± 4.98 Mg·C·ha−1. Among different savanna vegetation types, gallery forests recorded the highest mean carbon stock of 9.38 ± 6.90 Mg·C·ha−1. This study was an attempt at addressing the knowledge gap particularly on carbon stocks of protected savannas—it can serve as a baseline for carbon stocks for future initiatives such as REDD+ within these areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A New Method of Environmental Assessment and Monitoring of Cu, Zn, As, and Pb Pollution in Surface Soil Using Terricolous Fruticose Lichens
Environments 2016, 3(4), 35; doi:10.3390/environments3040035
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 8 December 2016 / Accepted: 8 December 2016 / Published: 11 December 2016
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Abstract
Levels of trace element pollution in surface soil can be estimated using soil analyses and leaching tests. These methods may reveal different results due to the effect of soil properties, such as grain size and mineral composition, on elemental availability. Therefore, this study
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Levels of trace element pollution in surface soil can be estimated using soil analyses and leaching tests. These methods may reveal different results due to the effect of soil properties, such as grain size and mineral composition, on elemental availability. Therefore, this study advocates an alternative method for monitoring and assessment of trace element pollution in surface soil using terricolous fruticose lichens. Lichens growing at abandoned mine sites and unpolluted areas in southwest Japan and their substrata were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to clarify the relationships between Cu, Zn, As, and Pb concentrations in lichens and soils, including their absorption properties. Concentrations of these elements in the lichens were positively correlated with those in the soils regardless of lichen species, location, habitat, or conditions of soils. The analyzed lichens had neither competitive nor antagonistic properties in their elemental absorption, which made them good biomonitors of trace element pollution in surface soil. The distribution maps of average Cu, Zn, As, and Pb concentrations at each sampling region detected almost all of the Cu, Zn, and As pollution of the soils. Therefore, lichens could be used in practical applications to monitor Cu, Zn, and As pollution in surface soils. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Evaluation of Organic Matter Removal Efficiency and Microbial Enzyme Activity in Vertical-Flow Constructed Wetland Systems
Environments 2016, 3(4), 26; doi:10.3390/environments3040026
Received: 5 August 2016 / Revised: 18 September 2016 / Accepted: 21 September 2016 / Published: 30 September 2016
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Abstract
In this study, enzyme activities and their relationships to organics purification were investigated in three different vertical flow constructed wetlands, namely system A (planting Pennisetum sinese Roxb), system B (planting Pennisetum purpureum Schum.), and system C (no plant). These three wetland
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In this study, enzyme activities and their relationships to organics purification were investigated in three different vertical flow constructed wetlands, namely system A (planting Pennisetum sinese Roxb), system B (planting Pennisetum purpureum Schum.), and system C (no plant). These three wetland systems were fed with simulation domestic sewage at an influent flow rate of 20 cm/day. The results showed that the final removal efficiency of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) in these three systems was 87%, 85% and 63%, respectively. Planting Pennisetum sinese Roxb and Pennisetum purpureum Schum. could improve the amount of adsorption and interception for organic matter in the substrate, and the amount of interception of organic matter in planting the Pennisetum sinese Roxb system was higher than that in planting the Pennisetum purpureum Schum. system. The activities of enzymes (urease, phosphatase and cellulase) in systems A and B were higher than those in system C, and these enzyme activities in the top layer (0–30 cm) were significantly higher than in the other layers. The correlations between the activities of urease, phosphatase, cellulase and the COD removal rates were R = 0.815, 0.961 and 0.973, respectively. It suggests that using Pennisetum sinese Roxb and Pennisetum purpureum Schum. as wetland plants could promote organics removal, and the activities of urease, phosphatase and cellulase in those three systems were important indicators for COD purification from wastewater. In addition, 0–30 cm was the main function layer. This study could provide a theoretical basis for COD removal in the wetland system and supply new plant materials for selection. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Investigating the Role of the Local Community as Co-Managers of the Mount Cameroon National Park Conservation Project
Environments 2016, 3(4), 36; doi:10.3390/environments3040036
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 7 December 2016 / Accepted: 8 December 2016 / Published: 16 December 2016
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Abstract
Local forest management is essential for enhancing the sustainability of both communities’ livelihoods and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD+) projects. However, few studies have examined the impact of forest ownership and control on community engagement and the functioning of communities
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Local forest management is essential for enhancing the sustainability of both communities’ livelihoods and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD+) projects. However, few studies have examined the impact of forest ownership and control on community engagement and the functioning of communities in a co-managing conservation initiative. This paper examines the influence of forest management on local participation and identifies the roles/functions of local communities in the Mount Cameroon National Park REDD+ conservation project. Cluster multi-stage random sampling was used to collect data from 259 respondents that were analysed using the chi-square, Mann–Whitney, t-test, Kruskal–Wallis, Jonckheere–Terpstra tests and NVivo. Results show that local communities have been involved in forest management practices before the establishment of the park. Communities support the establishment of a strict conservation zone and hope to promote local participation with a high expectation of benefits. Insecure tenure reduces project support and local engagement. Though communities massively support the initiative, engagement is low, and participants are not carrying out any tangible roles. They function mainly as manual labourers or mere committee members who only enforce rules/regulations within communities. Community-based natural resource management and integrated conservation and development projects have often not realised local expectations due to problems of application and impracticable legislation. Projects’ failure may be avoided by involving communities in tangible roles/functions and developing an effective co-management approach or establishing community-owned and -managed forest projects. This paper examines the progress of REDD+ from an early stage to help inform proponents in adapting strategies that are geared towards appropriate satisfactory outcomes, especially for local communities, to prevent the early failure of the initiative. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Study on the Kinetics and Removal Formula of Methanethiol by Ethanol Absorption
Environments 2016, 3(4), 27; doi:10.3390/environments3040027
Received: 1 September 2016 / Revised: 20 October 2016 / Accepted: 21 October 2016 / Published: 27 October 2016
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Abstract
Biological filtration is widely used for deodorising in wastewater treatment plants. This technique can efficiently remove soluble odour-causing substances, but minimally affects hydrophobic odorants, such as methanethiol (MT) and dimethyl sulfide. Ethanol absorption capacity for MT (as a representative hydrophobic odorant) was studied,
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Biological filtration is widely used for deodorising in wastewater treatment plants. This technique can efficiently remove soluble odour-causing substances, but minimally affects hydrophobic odorants, such as methanethiol (MT) and dimethyl sulfide. Ethanol absorption capacity for MT (as a representative hydrophobic odorant) was studied, and the MT removal rate formula was deduced based on the principle of physical absorption. Results indicated that the MT removal rate reached 80% when the volume ratio of ethanol/water was 1:5. The phase equilibrium constant was 0.024, and the overall mass transfer coefficient was 2.55 kmol/m2·h in the deodorisation tower that functioned as the physical absorption device. Examination results showed that the formula exhibited adaptability under changing working conditions. These findings provide a reference for engineering design and operation of a process for the removal of MT by ethanol absorption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Volatile Organic Compounds in Environment)
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Open AccessArticle Effects of Inhalation of Emissions from Cedar Timber on Psychological and Physiological Factors in an Indoor Environment
Environments 2016, 3(4), 37; doi:10.3390/environments3040037
Received: 13 November 2016 / Revised: 6 December 2016 / Accepted: 12 December 2016 / Published: 15 December 2016
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Abstract
Components extracted from cedar timber have been reported to have stress-reducing effects in humans. If the positive effects of cedar timber in indoor environments are scientifically proven, an indoor environment that utilizes cedar timber may contribute to the improvement or promotion of well-being
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Components extracted from cedar timber have been reported to have stress-reducing effects in humans. If the positive effects of cedar timber in indoor environments are scientifically proven, an indoor environment that utilizes cedar timber may contribute to the improvement or promotion of well-being in humans. In this study, we evaluated the effects of inhaling emissions of volatile constituents from cedar timber (Cryptomeria japonica) on the psychological and physiological factors in indoor environments. A case-control study with a crossover design was conducted with 10 subjects occupying two rooms that were controlled for interior materials, indoor climate, and room size. Cedrol and β-eudesmol were specifically detected in the case room. However, no significant differences were observed in psychological and physiological factors. There was a significant loss in vigor in the control group from the time before entering the room to the time after leaving the room; however, this loss in vigor was not seen in the case group. Temperature conditions were higher than the indoor environmental standard in Japan but similar in the two groups. Our results showed a minor positive change in vigor among participants exposed to cedar timber for a short term. Inhalation of emissions of volatile constituents from cedar timber may have positive effects in humans; however, further research on their efficacy is needed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Batch Fermentative Biohydrogen Production Process Using Immobilized Anaerobic Sludge from Organic Solid Waste
Environments 2016, 3(4), 38; doi:10.3390/environments3040038
Received: 14 November 2016 / Revised: 14 December 2016 / Accepted: 19 December 2016 / Published: 21 December 2016
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Abstract
This study examined the potential of organic solid waste for biohydrogen production using immobilized anaerobic sludge. Biohydrogen was produced under batch mode at process conditions of 7.9, 30.3 °C and 90 h for pH, temperature and fermentation time, respectively. A maximum biohydrogen fraction
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This study examined the potential of organic solid waste for biohydrogen production using immobilized anaerobic sludge. Biohydrogen was produced under batch mode at process conditions of 7.9, 30.3 °C and 90 h for pH, temperature and fermentation time, respectively. A maximum biohydrogen fraction of 48.67%, which corresponded to a biohydrogen yield of 215.39 mL H2/g Total Volatile Solids (TVS), was achieved. Therefore, the utilization of immobilized cells could pave the way for a large-scale biohydrogen production process. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Seasonal Variations in the Use of Profundal Habitat among Freshwater Fishes in Lake Norsjø, Southern Norway, and Subsequent Effects on Fish Mercury Concentrations
Environments 2016, 3(4), 29; doi:10.3390/environments3040029
Received: 9 September 2016 / Revised: 3 November 2016 / Accepted: 4 November 2016 / Published: 11 November 2016
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Abstract
This study is based on monthly sampling of fish from grates mounted at an industrial water intake, located at a depth of 50 m in Lake Norsjø (Southern Norway) during the year 2014, to investigate seasonal variations in the use of the profundal
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This study is based on monthly sampling of fish from grates mounted at an industrial water intake, located at a depth of 50 m in Lake Norsjø (Southern Norway) during the year 2014, to investigate seasonal variations in the use of the profundal habitat and subsequent variations in total Hg-concentrations in profundal fish. Data on various fish present in a cold and dark hypolimnion of a large, deep, dimictic lake within the upper temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere are rare. While predominant species such as A. charr (Salvelinus alpinus) and E. smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) were continuously present in this habitat, whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) occupied this habitat primarily during wintertime, while other common species like brown trout (Salmo trutta), perch (Perca fluviatilis) and northern pike (Esox lucius) were almost absent. Besides stomach analyses (diet) and biometry, stable isotope analyses (δ15N and δ13C) and total mercury (Tot-Hg) analyses were carried out on the caught fish. The δ13C signature and stomach analyses revealed a combined profundal-pelagic diet for all three species, A. charr with the most profundal-based diet. Length was the strongest predictor for Hg in whitefish and A. charr, while age was the strongest explanatory variable for Hg in E. smelt. A. charr was the only species exhibiting seasonal variation in Hg, highest during winter and spring. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Assessment of Fecal Contamination in Oklahoma Water Systems through the Use of Sterol Fingerprints
Environments 2016, 3(4), 28; doi:10.3390/environments3040028
Received: 14 June 2016 / Revised: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 24 October 2016 / Published: 2 November 2016
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Abstract
Fecal contamination is a major concern for water quality management, since the fecal materials are associated with pathogens that can cause illness wherever water is used for recreational, drinking and aquaculture purposes. In order to monitor source(s) of fecal contamination in Oklahoma water
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Fecal contamination is a major concern for water quality management, since the fecal materials are associated with pathogens that can cause illness wherever water is used for recreational, drinking and aquaculture purposes. In order to monitor source(s) of fecal contamination in Oklahoma water systems, sterol profiles were previously examined in rural and urban samples collected from the Illinois River Basin and the Norman Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), respectively. Two distinctive, qualitatively and quantitatively, sterol fingerprints were recognized. Despite the effective removal of organic material by the Norman WWTP, human-derived sterol fingerprints, characterized by a predominance of fecal stanols such as coprostanol, were still significant in the output from the plant. The source of fecal material in the Illinois River samples (rural) was defined as being characteristic of corn-feed chicken manure originating from surrounding feedlots through the principal component analysis (PCA) of the sterol distributions and carbon compound specific isotope analysis of selected sterols (CSIA, δ13C). Thiosteranes, formed during sludge treatments, were also shown to be useful tracers for monitoring sludge application in agriculture fields. The results obtained were used to provide water management authorities with qualitative insights into the source of fecal material inputs into the environment. Full article
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