2016 Sunset from the dock

Sunset from the dock in 2016

2020 Field Sampling Photo

Sampling during 2020

West Falmouth Harbor

About the Estuary

West Falmouth Harbor is a shallow estuary in West Falmouth, on Cape Cod, MA, USA that serves as an important local resource for boating and recreation, fishing and shellfishing, and swimming, as well as provides critical habitat for marine species. The harbor has been impacted by nitrogen pollution from a nearby wastewater treatment facility which went online in 1986. The plant was upgraded in 2005 to tertiary treatment, reducing the nitrogen load to the watershed dramatically. The main goal of our research is to quantify the loading to the harbor and study its impacts on whole-ecosystem biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem health.

This research has been made possible with funding provided by Woods Hole SeaGrant, NSF Biocomplexity, and NSF LTREB. We have collaborated with colleagues from the Marine Biological Laboratory, USGS Woods Hole, University of Virginia, and Rochester Institute of Technology from 2004 through the present.

Published scientific literature on our project

Lab-based multispectral photography for approximating chlorophyll content in Zostera marina.

High rates of nitrogen fixation associated with epiphytes on the seagrass Zostera marina in a nitrogen-enriched temperate lagoon.

Variation in sediment and seagrass characteristics reflect multiple stressors along a nitrogen-enrichment gradient in a New England lagoon.

Role of external inputs of nutrients to aquatic ecosystems in determining prevalence of nitrogen vs. phosphorus limitation of net primary productivity.

Evidence of grazer control on nitrogen fixation by eelgrass epiphytes in a temperate coastal bay.

Modeling future scenarios of light attenuation and potential seagrass success in a eutrophic estuary.

Metabolism of a nitrogen-enriched coastal marine lagoon during the summertime.

Exchange of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Between a Shallow Lagoon and Coastal Waters.

Eddy correlation measurements of oxygen fluxes in permeable sediments exposed to varying current flow and light.

Tidal and groundwater fluxes to a shallow, microtidal estuary: constraining inputs through field observations and hydrodynamic modeling.

Benthic macroinvertebrate functional diversity regulates nutrient and algal dynamics in a shallow estuary.

A novel approach for direct estimation of fresh groundwater discharge to an estuary.

Published scientific datasets on WFH

Student theses and dissertations on our project

Eelgrass and epiphytes as ecosystem engineers in a eutrophic environment: sediment accumulation and biogeochemistry. Cornell University.

Seagrass (Zostera marina) health in a eutrophic coastal marine ecosystem as affected by multiple environmental stressors: shading, sediment organic matter, total sulfur, and soluble sulfides. Cornell University.

Exchange Of Nitrogen And Phosphorus Between A Shallow Estuary And Coastal Waters. Cornell University.

Benthic macroinvertebrate diversity in a shallow estuary: controls on nutrient and algal dynamics. Rochester Institute of Technology.

Effects Of The Density Of Co-Occuring Bivalves (Mya Arenaria) And Deep-Burrowing Polychaetes (Nereis Virens) On Benthic Fluxes And The Concentrations Of Ammonium And Soluble Sulfides In Sediment Porewater. Cornell University.