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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Friends of Oceanography Public Lecture Explores
How Sewage Has Changed the Fertility of the Nile River

Narragansett, RI -- March 4, 2002 --URI Graduate School of Oceanography biological oceanographer Scott W. Nixon will present "Replacing the Nile: Is Sewage Providing the Fertility Once Brought to the Mediterranean by a Great River?" on Sunday, March 17, at 3 p.m. Sponsored by Friends of Oceanography, the free public lecture will take place in the Coastal Institute Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett and will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to meet Dr. Nixon.

Prior to construction of the Aswan high dam, the annual Nile flood delivered tons of phosphorus, nitrogen, and silica to the Mediterranean coastal waters off Egypt. These nutrients stimulated a dramatic "Nile bloom" of diatoms that supported a productive fishery. After closure of the dam in 1965, flow from the Nile was reduced by more than 90 percent, and the fishery collapsed and remained unproductive for 15 years.

The fishery began a dramatic recovery during the 1980s, coincident with increasing fertilizer use, expanded agricultural drainage, increasing human population, and dramatic extensions of urban water supplies and sewage collection systems.

Nixon’s talk will focus on how human sewage and agricultural drainage now support the fertility once provided by the Nile, although the nature of the productive ecosystem now supporting the fishery appears to be quite different from the historical one.

A resident of Wakefield, Nixon received his B.A. in biology from the University of Delaware and his Ph.D. in botany from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1984-2000 he was the director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program. His research focuses on productivity and biogeochemical cycling of coastal ecosystems, with emphasis on estuaries, lagoons, and wetlands. He also conducts ecosystem-level experiments using mesocosms and is interested in comparative and historical ecology. He serves on the National Research Council Ocean Studies Board and is co-editor in chief of Estuaries.

Established in 1985 to support and promote the activities of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Friends of Oceanography informs and educates the membership and the general public about the scientific, technological, and environmental research that takes place at GSO. The organization sponsors public lectures, open houses, marine-related mini-courses, science cruises on Narragansett Bay, and an annual auction. The Friends office is located in the Coastal Institute building on URI's Narragansett Bay Campus. For information about Friends of Oceanography, call 874-6642.

Contact: Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642,

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