Investigating ecosystem resiliency in different flood zones of south Brooklyn, New York

(1) Brooklyn Technical High School
Cover photo for Investigating ecosystem resiliency in different flood zones of south Brooklyn, New York
Image credit: Ng and Zheng et al 2024

With climate change and rising sea levels, south Brooklyn is exposed to massive flooding and intense precipitation. Previous research discovered that flooding shifts plant species distribution, decreases soil pH, and increases salt concentration, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels. We predicted a decreasing trend from Zone 1 to 6: high-pH, high-salt, and high-nutrients in more flood-prone areas to low-pH, low-salt, and low-nutrient in less flood-prone regions. We performed DNA barcoding to identify plant species inhabiting flood zones with expectations of decreasing salt tolerance and moisture uptake by plants' soil from Zones 1-6. Furthermore, we predicted an increase in invasive species, ultimately resulting in a decrease in biodiversity. After barcoding, we researched existing information regarding invasiveness, ideal soil, pH tolerance, and salt tolerance. We performed soil analyses to identify pH, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) levels. For N and P levels, we discovered a general decreasing trend from Zone 1 to 6 with low and moderate statistical significance respectively. Previous studies found that soil moisture can increase N and P uptake, helping plants adopt efficient resource-use strategies and reduce water stress from flooding. Although characteristics of plants were distributed throughout all zones, demonstrating overall diversity, the soil analyses hinted at the possibility of a rising trend of plants adapting to the increase in flooding. Future expansive research is needed to comprehensively map these trends. Ultimately, investigating trends between flood zones and the prevalence of different species will assist in guiding solutions to weathering climate change and protecting biodiversity in Brooklyn.

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