Physical Geography and Sciences


Nathalie Rivas



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Nathalie Rivas, GES460: Environmental Field Methods
Faculty Mentor(s): Professor Elisa Bergslien, Earth Sciences and Science Education

New York City is home to one of the best known parks in the country, Central Park, with its massive size ranging from the upper west to the lower east side of Manhattan. Central Park is home to numerous habitats, bodies of water, and species. Despite its glory, Central Park is also home to plants that are damaging to the environment. Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) occur when colonies of algae grow out of control due to changes in water quality. The water becomes overfed by certain nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, due to the human activities. They can create dramatic changes such as depletion of oxygen levels, reduction in the amount of sunlight an ecosystem receives, and can even cause negative health effects on humans. In recent years, HABs have also been linked to the death of many pets who drank water in the park. In this study, an analysis of the water quality of two bodies of water in Central Park will be conducted to understand why HABs are suddenly increasing in the environment: the Reservoir and Turtle Pond. The Reservoir used to be a water supply for NYC residents in the 1860s connecting to the Croton Aqueduct, while Turtle Pond resides on an area formerly part of the Aqueduct. Since both bodies of water are treated differently today despite their similar backgrounds, a comparison of their water quality can help isolate what factors may be contributing to an increase in the blooms. Levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and dissolved oxygen were sampled in both the Reservoir and the Turtle Pond, and their usage and treatment examined to see what causes the blooms to appear, such as the amount of fertilizer used to the surrounding grass. The importance of this study is to understand why HABs are rapidly occurring in Central Park, in order to stop continued negative effects on the environment and human health.

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Central Park: Harmful Algal Blooms
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