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Dr. Lapointe is Blazing the Nitrogen Trail

COAST’s Executive Director of Science & Technology Dr. Brian Lapointe has developed a breakthrough technique that measures stable nitrogen isotope ratios in the tissue of marine organisms and is now blazing the “Nitrogen Trail” to track nutrient pollution sources and to assess the health of coastal, estuarine, and oceanic ecosystems such as in the Caloosahatchee River and Florida Bay.


Abundant nutrient pollution in our waters can result in Algal Blooms such as the infamous “Redtide” that often produces toxic or harmful effects on both humans (including local economies) and marine habitats. The significant ramifications of these Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) make it vital that Dr. Lapointe’s groundbreaking methods gain widespread application to enhance the sustainable management of marine ecosystems. In order to spur the increased utilization of the monitoring technique, Dr. Lapointe collaborated on a research paper that promotes the versatility of utilizing the sampling technique and even offers a brief tutorial on how to most effectively utilize the stable nitrogen isotope ratio method. Please read Dr. Lapointe’s paper-lapointe etal 09 Use of 15N in assessing sewage stress on coral reefs which won the Marine Pollution Bulletin’s Best Paper of the Year Prize.

Nutrient Pollution from Ocean Outfall

To see a video of Dr. Lapointe  giving a lecture on the topic of how coastal eutrophication is impacting coral reef health in the Florida Keys watch the following video:

Reefs, Wreckers, and Shipwreckers in the Florida Keys

For more information on Dr. Lapointe’s work please review the following research papers that analyze the impacts of nutrient inputs on the health of marine ecosystems throughout the world:

Sewage Pollution Effects on Jamaican Coral Reefs

Turning the RedTide

Nutrient Impacts on Tobago Reefs MPB

Lapointe & Bedford 2011 Hawaii Nutrient Pollution Favors Non-Native Species

Nitrogen Assimilation in Southeast Florida Reefs 

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