Article Summary And Critique

Article Summary And Critique


This paper is going to summarise an articles that relate to environmental management and ecological modeling. It will also include a critique of the article in order to ascertain whether it has logical arguments.The critique will also involve an assessment of whether there was conclusive evidence in the article. In this paper, additional literature will be used in order to make personal opinions on the conclusions made by the authors of this article.

Summary: Hutchins, M. G., 2012. What impact might mitigation of diffuse nitrate pollution have on river water quality in a rural catchment

The article entitled “What impact might mitigation of diffuse nitrate pollution have on river water quality in a rural catchment?” by Michael Hutchins, studied the role played by nitrate loads in freshwater. The investigator carried out the study by evaluating how phytoplankton growth is affected by nutrient and light concentration. On one hand, the assessment of nutrients concentration was done by the measurement of annual mean concentration sourced from periodic regulatory monitoring. On the other hand, the effect of light was assessed using data sourced from solar radiation and sediment monitoring data. The investigator went further and assessed areas in the river under study that had sufficient calm water that could facilitate the growth of phytoplankton. This was done using hydraulic data collected from river network model applications. The researcher then went further and developed an analysis of the effect of the changes on land management in the nitrate concentrations in the river. This was carried out using estimations from NALTRACES, a nitrate model. An analysis using NALTRACES concluded that as much as agriculture contributes to increased levels of nitrates in the river water, its effect on the growth and concentration of phytoplankton is negligible. The study also found out that the growth of phytoplankton is regulated by the amount of sunlight that is able to infiltrate the water. In fact, areas that allow maximum light infiltration into the water promote extensive growth of Phytoplankton even if the levels of nitrates in the water are very low. Therefore, the investigation concluded that nitrate concentration is not one of the conditions that determine the growth of phytoplankton in the river water.

The investigation concluded that developing a means of regulating the amount of light reaching the water is an effective way of regulating the growth of phytoplankton. It also suggested the establishment of a riparian tree cover as one of the ways that can be used in the regulation of light availability in the river water. Data was gathered and analyzed using a variety of simple modeling approaches to arrive at the conclusion that an effective way of mitigating phytoplankton growth is by minimizing illumination on the water surface.


The article by Hutchins is researched well, and the conclusions developed from the findings are well founded and backed by a good number of previous investigations. The conclusions are well founded because they are derived from the collected data. In addition, the conclusions are achieved after the collected data is critically analyzed and evaluated. The methodology applied in the investigation is effective enough to provide an explanation to the research issue. This is because it involves the collection of primary data as well as secondary data (Hutchins, 2012), which assists in explaining terms used in this research. The investigation applied a correlation analysis of nutrient level and phytoplankton growth, resulting to the development of a conclusion that had enough evidences that backed it. The evidence was derived from the data in the correlation analysis. In fact, the data used in the research acted as evidence for the conclusions made. Furthermore, data regarding sunlight illumination and phytoplankton growth was used in the development of a sound analysis. From this analysis, it was concluded that it is one main factor that if controlled, the growth of phytoplankton can be fully regulated.

On examining the sources used in this review, we notice that all sources are academic and written by well-known authors and published in credible journals. In fact, most of the studies referenced in the investigation were conducted between the years 2003 and 2012. Therefore, the sources cited in this article are the latest with respect to information portrayed in the article.

However, the article has provided a stand that contradicts many recent investigations that link phytoplankton bloom to increased nutrient levels in water. Xu et al (2010) proposes an approach of regulating phytoplankton bloom in Lake Taihu that basically involves an approach aimed at lowering the lake waters nutritional levels. From their study, it was evident that phytoplankton bloom in the lake is directly associated with increased leaching of nutrients into the lake waters.

On the other hand, Hutchins (2012) argues that nutrient levels have no form of association with phytoplankton bloom. This assertion is not founded since effects of human activities lead to unnatural forms of occasions. The sun is always constant, and its effects with relation to phytoplankton bloom are directly proportional to the levels of nutrients available in the waters to effect growth. As much as his conclusion links the reduction of illumination in the river as an approach towards managing the growth of phytoplankton, the application of this approach is quite limited and time consuming. In most cases, it might take several years to manage the problem by developing a means of regulating sunlight.

According to a study by Lewis and Wurtsbaugh (2008), the phytoplankton growth limiting effect of nitrates is not universal. It is common in waters found in the high altitude tropic regions, which are not the case of the location of the river analysed in the study. The author also mentions phosphorus as a mineral that has no effect on the concentration of Phytoplankton; this stand contradicts a study by Sylvan and his colleagues (2006), which provided an inverse proportionality of the concentration of phosphorus to the concentration of phytoplankton. Therefore, the assumption adopted by Hutchins (2012), in his investigation required a deeper clarification on the approach adopted on arriving at the conclusion of delinking mineral concentrations to phytoplankton growth in the river.

For the case of this river, I think a study that specifically analyses the extent to which nutrients affect the growth of phytoplankton is the best approach that will provide practical and applicable findings and recommendations. An in-depth analysis of the impacts of each nutrient to the growth of phytoplankton is necessary. Furthermore, this article is limited in its approach to developing a recommendation that aims at limiting the sunlight accessing the water in the river. As much as he assures the reader of the effectiveness of that approach, it is less viable due to several issues, including cost and time factor.

In conclusion, as much as this article enriches the available level of understanding on management of Phytoplankton, its limitation in terms of applicability of the findings limits the effectiveness of the study with relation to the topic of the paper.


Hutchins, M. G., 2012. What impact might mitigation of diffuse nitrate pollution have on river water quality in a rural catchmentJournal of Environmental Management, 109, 19-26. Retrieved from

Lewis, W. M., &Wurtsbaugh A. W., 2008. Control of lacustrine phytoplankton by nutrients: Erosion of the phosphorus paradigm. Internat. Rev. Hydrobiol. 93, 446–465. Retrieved from

Sylvan, J. B., Dortch Q.,Nelson, D.M.,MaierbrownA.F.,Morrison W., & Ammerman, J. W., 2006. Phosphorus limits phytoplankton growth on the Louisiana shelf during the period of hypoxia formation. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40, 7548–7553. Retrieved from

Xu, H., Paerl, H.W., Qin B., Zhu G., & Gao, G., 2010. Nitrogen and phosphorus inputs control phytoplankton growth in eutrophic Lake Taihu, China, Limnol. Oceanogr., 55(1), 420–432. Retrieved from