Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Matthew S. Schuler

Committee Member

Collette J. Feehan

Committee Member

Meiyin Wu


When trying to understand how anthropogenic activities affect patterns in community ecology, bacterial communities are frequently neglected. These bacterial communities are essential to the overall health and stability of several different ecosystems. As nutrient pollution increases, some bacterial taxa may increase, causing an imbalance in food web dynamics and disrupting biogeochemical cycles. Next-generation sequencing coupled with water chemistry measurements has allowed for association testing between site water characteristics and bacterial taxa. By examining bacteria along a natural nutrient gradient over winter months in Overpeck Creek in northern New Jersey, this research shows that anthropogenic activities, specifically nutrient pollution, can alter bacterial diversity and taxa composition. These findings indicate that Overpeck Creek suffers from extensive nutrient pollution and that winter bacteria are altered more by nitrogen and carbon than phosphorus pollution. Extended work needs to be conducted to understand if seasonal changes in bacterial diversity patterns are moderated by nutrient pollution in Overpeck Creek.

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Biology Commons