Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Rima Franklin


Surface waters containing fecal bacteria present significant public health risks. Understanding the sources of and factors affecting the distribution of fecal-indicating bacteria is necessary to predict potential illnesses more effectively. This thesis presents two studies on the distribution of fecal bacteria in the James River through Richmond, Virginia. Chapter 1 describes nearly 11 years of water quality, climate, and hydrologic data that occurred with changes in Escherichia coli concentrations, concluding that Richmond contributes significant quantities of fecal bacteria to the James River, and that the distribution of these bacteria varies seasonally. Chapter 2 details the development of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-based methods to identify four common pathogenic taxa of fecal bacteria, and indicates that the factors controlling the distribution of these pathogens may be taxa-specific. Both studies, taken together, indicate that urbanization increases the presence of fecal bacteria and pathogens in this system, and that recreational contact with the river presents potential health risks.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2011

Included in

Biology Commons