Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2010

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Parkin, Gene F.

First Committee Member

Schnoor, Jerald L.


Labeled by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as one of fourteen Grand Challenges for Engineering, the management of the nitrogen cycle has become an increasingly difficult obstacle for sustainable development. In an effort to help overcome this challenge, the goal of our study is to expand on the limited scientific understanding of how the nitrogen cycle within aquatic environments may be affected by increasing human- and climate-induced changes. To this end, we are using freshwater mussels as a sentinel species to better understand the impacts of ecosystem perturbation on nitrogen processing in large river systems.

This was completed by examining the physical, biological, and chemical characteristics of a mussel habitat in the Mississippi River, evaluating the impact of the 2008 floods on the habitat and the ecosystem's nutrient processing, establishing a well-equipped mussel laboratory habitat to investigate mussel behavioral responses, and analyzing highly time resolved data to examine the mussels' contribution to daily nitrate fluxes.


Behavioral Responses, Freshwater Mussels, High Frequency Data, Nitrate, Nutrient Cycling


xi, 109 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 102-109).


Copyright 2010 Jeremy Bril