Marine Chemistry Research
Dr. Kevin Dillon

Dr. Kevin Dillon, Associate Professor in the Division of Coastal Sciences

Dr. Kevin Dillon is an Associate Professor in the Division of Coastal Sciences. His research focuses on the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients in aquatic environments.  Current research projects are investigating storm water nutrients, artificial reef biofilm communities, and food web dynamics in Mississippi coastal waters. An understanding of carbon and nutrient dynamics in aquatic ecosystems is essential to understanding the basic ecological functions of these systems. The results of Dr. Dillon's research can be used by local, state, and federal agencies in developing management plans and policies for coastal ecosystems.

 

Lynn Wilking, Artificial Reef Biofilms

Lynn Wilking, a Cornell biology graduate, is one of Dillon’s a Master student in the Division of Coastal Sciences. She is investigating the diverse microbial and invertebrate communities, or biofilms, which rapidly colonize artificial reefs.
Lynn prepares samples to be tested
for total organic carbon and total
nitrogen content. 

Lynn Wilking, a Cornell biology graduate, is one of Dillon’s M.S. student in the Division of Coastal Sciences.  Lynn is investigating the diverse microbial and invertebrate communities, or biofilms, which rapidly colonize artificial reef material planted by the Department of Marine Resources and the Audubon Society in Mississippi waters.

Lynn's research measures the effects of biofilms on oxygen and nutrient concentrations in the water column at four artificial reef sites in Mississippi Sound. The work incudes measurements of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in the reef biofilm to better understand how they fit into local food webs. Samples of reef material are placed on the reef site in wire baskets and retrieved for analysis after various exposure periods.

Lynn's work will help other scientists and coastal managers understand how artificial reefs influence biological production in coastal waters.

 


Josh Allen is examining the delivery of nutrients in stormwater from three land use types (pristine, residential, and urbanized areas) to Mississippi Sound and the potential for eutrophication.

Josh inserts samples into the
elemental analyzer for stable
isotope analysis.

Josh Allen, Stormwater Runoff

Josh Allen, another of Dr. Dillon's M.S. students, is examining the delivery of nutrients in stormwater from three land use types (pristine, residential, and urbanized) to Mississippi Sound. Stormwater can be a major source of pollutants and excess nutrients to coastal waters. Stormwater runoff becomes more significant as development creates more impermeable surfaces such as roads, parking lots, and buildings. Hard surfaces cause more runoff and create large pulses of runoff during rainstorms. Undeveloped areas allow more of the rainwater to soak into the ground, while also slowing and spreading the flow of runoff. It is important for local and state planners to understand how development and urbanization can affect nutrient levels in Mississippi’s coastal waters.

A key component of Josh's work is a dataset of measurements of the concentrations and stable isotope values of various forms of nitrogen in rainwater, stormwater, and coastal waters. Stormwater sampling must be done during significant rain events with at least one inch of rainfall. Three sites are sampled to represent each of the landscape types, from the relatively pristine Grand Bay area to the highly developed Edgewater Mall. Since 2010, samples have been taken during 12 storms. The project objectives include sampling during 20 significant rain events.

Analysis of the dataset will allow Josh to determine how much nitrogen is delivered to the Sound from rain events and how stormwater nutrient loads vary among the three landscapes types.