Term of Award

Summer 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

J. Checo Colon-Gaud

Committee Member 1

Craig Aumack

Committee Member 2

Elizabeth Hunter

Abstract

Wetlands provide valuable ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling and carbon storage. Microalgae (i.e., diatoms) provide the foundation of primary production and determine rates of energy transfer throughout the system. Climate change models predict an increase in frequency of intense storms and severe drought conditions that pose a threat to known hydrological regimes and wetland ecosystem stability. The purpose of my study was to assess the effects of water permanence (i.e., duration of flooding) on diatom community structure in experimental wetlands. I predicted that wetlands with prolonged periods of flooding (i.e., permanent) would harbor a consistent diatom community throughout flooding and have higher levels of primary production. I also predicted that wetlands that experienced flooding followed by rapid receding of water (i.e., temporary) would initially have lower rates of primary production, with an increased rate during drying conditions. When assessed, mean species richness in permanent wetlands remained higher than temporary, even at the onset of the experiment. Benthic-level primary production rates were consistently lower in temporary wetlands and decreased during the drying period. Results suggest that hydrological changes alter diatom communities, decreasing energy flow throughout the food web during disturbances such as drought.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

Yes

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