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Kelp, Peat Moss & Eutrophication


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Hello World :wave2:


Like always it's time for my science projects and like previous year I'm continuing my work on Kelp forest but this time I've taken the liberty to expand the project a bit by including moss into it.So here it goes.

In one of my books (biology) I cam across as sentence which read, "Mosses help control soil erosion." and that made sense since they form almost a layer over the soil which would prevent the soil from running away with the agents of erosion. But the question is, if mosses do prevent soil erosion and if we know that they do then why don't we take advantage of this unique property of them? They can be used near the river banks to help delay soil erosion to a great extent. But still we don't use them?


Although I've no idea why we don't I upon thinking about it I now have a few questions regarding mosses (P.S Fo the project I plan on using Peat Moss (Sphagnum).


1) If peat moss or any other moss is grown near river bank (or lakes) is there any risk of eutrophication? (Same question applies for kelp)

2) As we know that the mosses form a layer over the soil to prevent soil erosion, but does this effect the exchange of gasses that takes place in and out of soil (for e.g nitrogen gets absorbed by the soil)?

3) Is the fungal infection that can be caused by mosses serious? Is there any moss which does not posses the same threat?


Now, apart from these question which may even hold the answer to why mosses aren't used/cultivated to prevent soil erosion it seems like mosses have plenty of uses. Please refer to these links to know them (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moss#Traditional_uses) & (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphagnum#Uses). Aside from that I think (I'm not sure) that mosses are also autotrophic so they are useful for preventing climate change to. So is there no way that we can somehow get rid of the dangers it posses and use it to somehow prevent various environmental threats?


Now coming to Kelp forests, I know their uses but what I'm not much aware of are it's disadvantages; Red tide being one of them (which is I suppose a form of eutrophication). Are there any other potential threats that Kelp forests may cause? And also is there any way to prevent the red tide or excess multiplication of the kelp?


That's all for now. Thank you :bow:

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1) Eutrophication is the overload of nutrients into a body of water. So unless the banks are fertilized to increase moss growth, there would be no additional risk of runoff pollution.

2) While it may seem that a complete blanket of moss would seal off the soil preventing gas exchange, the opposite is actually true. Because the moss (or any other ground cover or mulch) protects the soil from compaction due to rainfall, animal traffic, etc., gasses are better able to travel through diffusion through the pore structures of the soil. Gaseous nitrogen is not absorbed by soils, instead is is fixed by nitrogen fixing bacteria which convert N2 to NH3 and then, depending on the plants and bacteria species present, eventually to NO3-. In an anaerobic (low-oxygen) environment, nitrates are converted back to gaseous nitrogen by denitrifying bacteria. See nitrogen cycle

3) I don't know much about mosses and am not aware of the fungal infection you refer to.



I know practically nothing about kelp forests and salt-water biotopes, so I cannot address anything in that realm.


Sphagnum peat moss grows in a bog, not on soil. So it is inappropriate to use as a ground cover. Most mosses thrive in cool, damp locations, which would limit their application as a ground cover in some situations. Worst of all though, is that mosses do not have extensive root networks that anchor the soil to the bank preventing erosion, and that mosses generally grow too slowly to be an effective means of controling nutrient laden runoff from agricultural areas.


I am aware of two approaches to combating erosion due to water run-off and excess nutrient pollution simultaneosuly, though there are likely more.


The first is to alter the shape of the land to slow down the flow of water, allowing more water to percolate through the soil rather than flowing along the surface. Terraces, swales, and artificial erosion controls such as fiber rolls are commonly used. In conjunction with water flowrate control, by planting rapidly growing grasses, trees, or other plants, you can simultaneously increase the stability of the soil and reduce the nutrient runoff into the body of water you are trying to protect.


The other approach would be to create a riparian zone that acts as a buffer between the nutrient laden runoff and the water body you are trying to protect. Duckweeds, water hyacinths, reeds, and other emergent aquatic plants can rapidly consume the excess nutrients from run-off, and because they have access to atmospheric carbon dioxide and direct sunlight, they grow much more quickly than aquatic plants. If aquatic plants alone were relied on to process the nutrients, algae would likely outcompete and end up causing the same eutrophication symptoms that you are trying to prevent in the main body of water. The benefits to this approach is that water quality can be controlled more easily through removal of nutrients, silts, and toxic chemicals when compared to terrestrial management techniques, but because this is more of a managed approach, periodic maintenance of the riparian buffer zone would be required to remove vegetative matter and silt build up. Care should also be taken to make sure destructive invasive species are not used, because flooding could wash some individuals into the main body of water being protected.

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