Faculty Advisor

Dr. James Montgomery


Phosphorus is a major element needed for plant growth. Excess phosphorus from agricultural runoff and urban stormwater can enter waterways, resulting in growth of toxic algal blooms that are deleterious to local fauna. One way to remove phosphorus is by diverting agricultural and urban runoff into wetlands. One such wetland is Prairie Wolf Slough (PWS), located in north suburban Chicago, IL. Stormwater enters PWS through an inlet channel and exits through an outlet pipe into the Chicago River. A 16-year study documented that a significantly greater mass of phosphorus leaves PWS than enters through the inlet. This study accounted for 90% of the phosphorus leaving PWS. The goal of my project is to calculate the mass of PLD deposited in this wetland. I hypothesize that the remaining 10% of phosphorus leaving PWS is from atmospheric deposition. Since August 2021, I have been collecting rain samples weekly from five collectors at PWS and analyzing them for phosphorus. ANOVA revealed significant differences in mean phosphorus concentrations among the sample locations over time, indicating that PLD could be a significant source of P export from PWS. The results of my study could inform future wetland restoration plans where trapping excess phosphorus is a major goal.