The Effect of Anubias barteri Plant Species on Limiting Freshwater Acidification

(1) The Quarry Lane School, Dublin, California, (2) Headwaters Science Institute, Soda Springs, California

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As dependence on fossil fuel combustion solidifies, environmental impacts of carbon emissions are exasperated, including freshwater and saltwater acidification. These processes result in acidifying water ecosystems, negatively changing ecosystem conditions for organisms. Existing research identifies the potential of aquatic plants on limiting ocean acidification. However, research relating to freshwater acidification is minimal, so the impact of aquatic plants, Anubias barteri var. congensis and Anubias barteri var. nana, on minimizing changes in pH was explored in an ecosystem in Northern California. Creek water samples, with and without the aquatic plants, were exposed to dry ice to simulate carbon emissions and the pH was monitored over an eight-hour period. Water samples with aquatic plants were hypothesized to have a smaller change in pH than water samples without aquatic plants. The data was used to measure the ability of aquatic plants to serve as a buffer in limiting pH change. Statistically significant differences were identified between the water samples with and without plants using a t-test after 285 minutes of the experimental period. There was a 25% difference in the observed pH based on molar hydrogen ion concentration between the water samples with plants and those without plants, suggesting that aquatic plants have the potential to limit acidification to some extent. These findings can guide future research to explore the viable partial solution of aquatic plants in combating freshwater acidification.

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