January 2, 2021 at 1:30 pm

Plant Biology Colloquium | Using Algal Ecology to Inform our Understanding and Management of Threats to Freshwater Ecosystems, Feb. 12

Nate Smucker, portrait

Nate Smucker

The Environmental & Plant Biology Colloquium Series presents Dr. Nate Smucker discussing “Using algal ecology to inform our understanding and management of threats to freshwater ecosystems” on Friday, Feb. 12, at 11:50 a.m. via Teams.

The host is Dr. Morgan Vis.

Smucker is an ecologist with the U.S. EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Abstract: Throughout the United States, nutrient pollution is a leading problem for water quality and freshwater ecosystems. Increases of nitrogen and phosphorus in lakes and streams affect algal communities, which can lead to harmful or nuisance algal blooms, reduced biodiversity, altered food webs and biogeochemical rates, and consequences for downstream ecosystems. When severe enough, these ecosystem changes can limit recreational opportunities, contribute to economic losses, and negatively affect human health and wellbeing. With algae being important primary producers, quantifying their responses to environmental changes can improve our understanding of nutrient effects and inform protection efforts and watershed management goals. This presentation will collectively draw upon lake, stream, and watershed studies to highlight possible applications of algal ecology to nutrient and watershed management. Specifically, I will discuss:
(1) How historical lake phytoplankton and remote sensing data are providing insights into long-term trends and possible expectations of cyanobacteria blooms and how they relate to nutrients and climate change,
(2) The emerging use of DNA metabarcoding to examine how changes in diatom communities can inform possible nutrient targets in streams, with a detailed example being in the watershed of one of the aforementioned lakes, and
(3) An example of the roles watershed modeling, economic analyses, and stakeholder engagement can have in implementing management practices.

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