Effects of Urbanization on Aquatic Organisms

The land use surrounding aquatic environments can influence water quality. Chemicals and other pollutants that have not killed aquatic organisms directly, often result in reduced populations. In this study we investigated the effect of urbanization on pH and dissolved oxygen in rivers in two regions: Western and Eastern Massachusetts. For each region, we selected three rivers with high levels of urbanization and three rivers with low levels of urbanization. We also sampled organisms to document differences in species diversity affected by urbanization. Each week, we set up baited fish traps on Saturday and returned Monday to pick them up. We hypothesized that urban sites were more likely to have small populations of aquatic environments due to higher levels of pollutants and chemicals than those of less urbanized locations. The average pH of rivers from urban sites was 5.93 compared to an average of 5.65 at the non-urban sites. We also recorded an average of 82.5% for dissolved oxygen in urban rivers compared to an average of 83.63% at the un-urban sites. Overall, we caught very few organisms at all locations. These results do not support our hypothesis that urbanization has an effect on pH, DO, or organisms in the rivers. The cool, spring conditions may not have been ideal for sampling organisms because of lower activity levels.