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Rainfall Driven Shifts in Staphylococcus aureus and Fecal Indicator Bacteria in the Hilo Bay Watershed

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Title: Rainfall Driven Shifts in Staphylococcus aureus and Fecal Indicator Bacteria in the Hilo Bay Watershed
Authors: Economy, Louise Marie
Advisor: Wiegner, Tracy N.
Keywords: Microbiology
Environmental science
Water resources management
Climate change
Fecal Indicator Bacteria
show 4 morePathogen loading
Staphylococcus aureus
Stream flow

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Issue Date: May 2018
Abstract: Bacteria in nearshore waters can threaten coastal communities, as some land-based bacteria can be pathogenic. The transport of these pathogens to the ocean is largely regulated by rainfall and stream flow patterns. Climate change will impact weather patterns, altering dynamics of pathogen loading to coastal waters. To assess the impact of pathogen loading to nearshore waters under varying weather conditions, a study was conducted in the Hilo Bay watershed in Hilo, Hawai`i, USA. Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus (MRSA), and fecal indicator bacteria (FIB, Enterococcus spp. and Clostridium perfringens) were quantified within Hilo Bay and its watershed streams, and within potential landscape sources (road runoff, sewage, and soil), using culture-based methods. Bacteria concentrations were compared to rainfall and stream flow data from pre-existing gauges. S. aureus and FIB were found across all Hilo Bay stations, and within streams, road runoff, sewage, and soil. MRSA was also found within Hilo Bay stations close to shore, and within streams and road runoff, but was less prevalent. S. aureus and FIB were significantly related to rainfall across stations in Hilo Bay. Additionally, S. aureus and FIB concentrations had positive relationships with peak stream discharge, as well as the ratio of current stream flow and the 7-d moving average. These data suggest that more intense storms, and increased dry periods between storms, will increase S. aureus and FIB loads to Hilo Bay. The patterns and models developed in this study will be useful for informing the public of impaired water quality conditions in Hawai`i, and across the wet tropics.
Pages/Duration: 64 pages
Appears in Collections:Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science

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