Ecosystem Research: Ecosystems & Water Quality
EPA’s ecosystem research program includes studies that help people better understand the intricate links between natural ecosystems, human activities, and water quality. These studies are designed to provide communities and other Agency partners with the knowledge and tools they need to protect and improve water quality and sustain the social, economic, and environmental benefits people derive from lakes, rivers, and other aquatic resources.
EPA Watershed Research
Through the Agency’s watershed research efforts, scientists and engineers explore the complex dynamics of watersheds and how human activities on land can impact adjacent aquatic resources. Their multidisciplinary studies are advancing the understanding of how the structure and function of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems change in response to human-caused environmental stressors, and these stressors can impact water quality and quantify.
EPA Nutrients Research
Natural ecosystems play a vital role in the flow and cycling of nutrients and can be negatively impacted by excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. The Agency’s nutrient pollution research includes efforts to study the links between ecosystem functions and nutrient pollution, especially in the context of how to identify and sustain ecosystem services that can be tapped to better protect water quality.
Supporting the National Estuary Program
EPA researchers are working with partners in the Agency’s National Estuary Program to help local communities improve the water quality, habitats, and living resources of estuaries. A major focus is research designed to provide the information, tools, and data needed to ensure these vital ecosystems continue to benefit nearby communities.
Water Supply and Ecosystem Protection
Agency researchers are exploring how wildfires and other extreme events can trigger a cascade of effects that disrupt how forests and other natural ecosystems function as natural filters for improving water quality in adjacent water bodies. The wildfire and water supply research includes studies on developing watershed practices, organic carbon mobilization, and legacy pollution and soil contamination.