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Educational Programs and Outreach

Glenbard East High School ESRP 2015

Phosphorus and metal detection in freshwater mussels and water willow and biologic mitigation efforts in an urban stream restoration


  • Students:
    • Michael Behrendt
    • Samuel Carani
    • Hunter Easterday
    • Megan Gerbuyos
    • Tyler Huber
    • Aime Luna
  • Teachers:
    • Karen Beardsley
  • Mentors:
    • David Vine (Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source)

Advanced Photon Source Sector 2: Microscopy

The introduction of American water willow (Justicia americana) and freshwater mussels, giant floater (Pyganodon grandis) and white heelsplitter (Lasmigona complanata), will be used as a part of the restoration of the impaired Spring Brook Creek #1 in Wheaton, IL. The water willow will be used for stream bed stabilization and the freshwater mussels will be reintroduced into their natural habitat. The aim of this investigation was to determine if water willow and mussels helped in the reduction of the nutrient load of Spring Brook #1 creek. Water willow was grown in inert growth substrate and regularly watered in three sample groups: 0 ppm, 3 ppm, and 15 ppm phosphoric acid.  Mussels were harvested from the stream just before analysis without being placed in different environments. Phosphorus and other elemental concentrations and distributions in both water willow and freshwater mussel mantle tissue were measured by synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (sXRF) at beamline 2-ID-E at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Lab.  There was no significant difference in tissue phosphorus levels in any of the treatments of stem and leaf in the water willow.  A Pearson correlation coefficient R2=0.09 indicated that water willow tissue phosphorus concentrations were not correlated to increasing environmental phosphorus levels. Mussel mantle tissue did have multiple elements present. These results indicate sequestration of phosphorus is not present in species tested.

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