Author(s): Shanks OC, Nietch C, Simonich M, Younger M, Reynolds D,
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Abstract The objectives of this study were to elucidate spatial and temporal dynamics in source-specific Bacteroidales 16S rRNA genetic marker data across a watershed; to compare these dynamics to fecal indicator counts, general measurements of water quality, and climatic forces; and to identify geographic areas of intense exposure to specific sources of contamination. Samples were collected during a 2-year period in the Tillamook basin in Oregon at 30 sites along five river tributaries and in Tillamook Bay. We performed Bacteroidales PCR assays with general, ruminant-source-specific, and human-source-specific primers to identify fecal sources. We determined the Escherichia coli most probable number, temperature, turbidity, and 5-day precipitation. Climate and water quality data collectively supported a rainfall runoff pattern for microbial source input that mirrored the annual precipitation cycle. Fecal sources were statistically linked more closely to ruminants than to humans; there was a 40\% greater probability of detecting a ruminant source marker than a human source marker across the basin. On a sample site basis, the addition of fecal source tracking data provided new information linking elevated fecal indicator bacterial loads to specific point and nonpoint sources of fecal pollution in the basin. Inconsistencies in E. coli and host-specific marker trends suggested that the factors that control the quantity of fecal indicators in the water column are different than the factors that influence the presence of Bacteroidales markers at specific times of the year. This may be important if fecal indicator counts are used as a criterion for source loading potential in receiving waters.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in International Journal of Waste Resources