Chesapeake Bay and Excess Nutrients - Quiz

Turning the Tide: Saving the Chesapeake Bay
Too Much of a Good Thing
Chesapeake Challenge / By Kathleen Gaskell - Bay Journal

When reading about the problems in the Chesapeake Bay, one might be left with the impression that nutrients—especially nitrogen and phosphorus—are bad. This is not the case; both are naturally present in the air, water and soil and are necessary for life in the Bay. The problems in the Chesapeake are the result of an EXCESS of these nutrients. How much do you know about phosphorus and nitrogen and their role in the Bay?

1. Both nitrogen and phosphorus are necessary for life. Which of these is necessary for plants and animals to synthesize protein?

2. Which—nitrogen or phosphorus—is a vital part of the process to convert sunlight into usable energy forms for the production of food and fiber, and is essential for cellular growth and reproduction in phytoplankton and bacteria?

3. Which of these causes more algae blooms in the parts of the Bay with the lowest salinity concentrations?

4. Which of these causes more algae blooms in the parts of the Bay with the highest salinity concentrations?

5. Which of these most often enters the Bay ecosystem attached to sediment particles?

6. Which of these most often enters the Bay ecosystem either dissolved in water or in the tissues of living or dead organisms.

7. The air we breathe is 78 percent nitrogen, but this nitrogen is inert—it is not in the organic form that is necessary for life. Some plants and bacteria are able to take the nitrogen present in the atmosphere and convert it into an organic form that can be used by other plants. This process is called:

A. Denitrification
B. Defertilization
C. Nitrogen Fixing
D. Photosynthesis

8. Some bacteria are able to process the excess nitrogen in the soil—before it enters the groundwater—and release it into the air in the form of inert nitrogen, which does not pose a threat to the Bay. This process is called:

A. Denitrification|
B. Nitrogen Fixing
C. Photosynthesis
D. Nitrogen Transference

9. Phytase is often cited as part of the solution to reduce phosphorus entering the Bay. What is phytase?

A. A feed additive that neutralizes the phosphorus in poultry litter
B. A nutritious additive that replaces phosphorus in poultry feed.
C. An additive that increases a chicken’s ability to absorb the phosphorus in its feed, thereby reducing the amount of phosphorus in the feed itself
D. An feed additive that turns the phosphorus in poultry litter to an inert compound

10. What has led to the greatest reduction of phosphorus entering the Bay?

A. Phytase in poultry feed
B. The ban on phosphates in detergent
C. The gradual replacement of septic systems with sewage systems
D. Phosphorus-absorbing plants that take up the nutrient before it reaches groundwater.



1. Nitrogen 2. Phosphorus 3. Phosphorus 4. Nitrogen 5. Phosphorus 6. Nitrogen 7. C 8. A 9. C 10. B

Kathleen A. Gaskell, the layout & design editor for the Bay Journal, has been involved with several environmental programs for children.

Too Much of a Good Thing
Article from Bay Journal - Jan 2006

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