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The ecology of the plankton communities of two desert reservoirs

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In 2010, a monthly sampling regimen was established to examine ecological differences in Saguaro Lake and Lake Pleasant, two Central Arizona reservoirs. Lake Pleasant is relatively deep and clear, while Saguaro Lake is relatively shallow and turbid. Preliminary results indicated

In 2010, a monthly sampling regimen was established to examine ecological differences in Saguaro Lake and Lake Pleasant, two Central Arizona reservoirs. Lake Pleasant is relatively deep and clear, while Saguaro Lake is relatively shallow and turbid. Preliminary results indicated that phytoplankton biomass was greater by an order of magnitude in Saguaro Lake, and that community structure differed. The purpose of this investigation was to determine why the reservoirs are different, and focused on physical characteristics of the water column, nutrient concentration, community structure of phytoplankton and zooplankton, and trophic cascades induced by fish populations. I formulated the following hypotheses: 1) Top-down control varies between the two reservoirs. The presence of piscivore fish in Lake Pleasant results in high grazer and low primary producer biomass through trophic cascades. Conversely, Saguaro Lake is controlled from the bottom-up. This hypothesis was tested through monthly analysis of zooplankton and phytoplankton communities in each reservoir. Analyses of the nutritional value of phytoplankton and DNA based molecular prey preference of zooplankton provided insight on trophic interactions between phytoplankton and zooplankton. Data from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) provided information on the fish communities of the two reservoirs. 2) Nutrient loads differ for each reservoir. Greater nutrient concentrations yield greater primary producer biomass; I hypothesize that Saguaro Lake is more eutrophic, while Lake Pleasant is more oligotrophic. Lake Pleasant had a larger zooplankton abundance and biomass, a larger piscivore fish community, and smaller phytoplankton abundance compared to Saguaro Lake. Thus, I conclude that Lake Pleasant was controlled top-down by the large piscivore fish population and Saguaro Lake was controlled from the bottom-up by the nutrient load in the reservoir. Hypothesis 2 stated that Saguaro Lake contains more nutrients than Lake Pleasant. However, Lake Pleasant had higher concentrations of dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus than Saguaro Lake. Additionally, an extended period of low dissolved N:P ratios in Saguaro Lake indicated N limitation, favoring dominance of N-fixing filamentous cyanobacteria in the phytoplankton community in that reservoir.

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2011

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The potential of coastal marine filtration as a feedstock source for biodiesel

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Second-generation biofuel feedstocks are currently grown in land-based systems that use valuable resources like water, electricity and fertilizer. This study investigates the potential of near-shore marine (ocean) seawater filtration as a source of planktonic biomass for biofuel production. Mixed marine

Second-generation biofuel feedstocks are currently grown in land-based systems that use valuable resources like water, electricity and fertilizer. This study investigates the potential of near-shore marine (ocean) seawater filtration as a source of planktonic biomass for biofuel production. Mixed marine organisms in the size range of 20µm to 500µm were isolated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) seawater filtration system during weekly backwash events between the months of April and August, 2011. The quantity of organic material produced was determined by sample combustion and calculation of ash-free dry weights. Qualitative investigation required density gradient separation with the heavy liquid sodium metatungstate followed by direct transesterification and gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) of the fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) produced. A maximum of 0.083g/L of dried organic material was produced in a single backwash event and a study average of 0.036g/L was calculated. This equates to an average weekly value of 7,674.75g of dried organic material produced from the filtration of approximately 24,417,792 liters of seawater. Temporal variations were limited. Organic quantities decreased over the course of the study. Bio-fouling effects from mussel overgrowth inexplicably increased production values when compared to un-fouled seawater supply lines. FAMEs (biodiesel) averaged 0.004% of the dried organic material with 0.36ml of biodiesel produced per week, on average. C16:0 and C22:6n3 fatty acids comprised the majority of the fatty acids in the samples. Saturated fatty acids made up 30.71% to 44.09% and unsaturated forms comprised 55.90% to 66.32% of the total chemical composition. Both quantities and qualities of organics and FAMEs were unrealistic for use as biodiesel but sample size limitations, system design, geographic and temporal factors may have impacted study results.

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2011

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Seasonal and interannual variability of the Sargasso Sea plankton community

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Phytoplankton comprise the base of the marine food web, and, along with heterotrophic protists, they are key players in the biological pump that transports carbon from the surface to the deep ocean. In the world's subtropical oligotrophic gyres, plankton communities

Phytoplankton comprise the base of the marine food web, and, along with heterotrophic protists, they are key players in the biological pump that transports carbon from the surface to the deep ocean. In the world's subtropical oligotrophic gyres, plankton communities exhibit strong seasonality. Winter storms vent deep water into the euphotic zone, triggering a surge in primary productivity in the form of a spring phytoplankton bloom. Although the hydrographic trends of this "boom and bust" cycle have been well studied for decades, community composition and its seasonal and annual variability remains an integral subject of research. It is hypothesized here that proportions of different phytoplankton and protistan taxa vary dramatically between seasons and years, and that picoplankton represent an important component of this community and contributor to carbon in the surface ocean. Monthly samples from the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site were analyzed by epifluorescence microscopy, which permits classification by morphology, size, and trophic type. Epifluorescence counts were supplemented with flow cytometric quantification of Synechococcus, Prochlorococcus, and autotrophic pico- and nanoeukaryotes. Results from this study indicate Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, prymnesiophytes, and hetero- and mixotrophic nano- and dinoflagellates were the major players in the BATS region plankton community. Ciliates, cryptophytes, diatoms, unidentified phototrophs, and other taxa represented rarer groups. Both flow cytometry and epifluorescence microscopy revealed Synechococcus to be most prevalent during the spring bloom. Prymnesiophytes likewise displayed distinct seasonality, with the highest concentrations again being noted during the bloom. Heterotrophic nano- and dinoflagellates, however, were most common in fall and winter. Mixotrophic dinoflagellates, while less abundant than their heterotrophic counterparts, displayed similar seasonality. A key finding of this study was the interannual variability revealed between the two years. While most taxa were more abundant in the first year, prymnesiophytes experienced much greater abundance in the second year bloom. Analyses of integrated carbon revealed further stark contrasts between the two years, both in terms of total carbon and the contributions of different groups. Total integrated carbon varied widely in the first study year but displayed less fluctuation after June 2009, and values were noticeably reduced in the second year.

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2010