Research Publication Title

Evaluation of Wetlands Algal Communities Located North and South of the Georgia Fall Line

Presenter Information

Sofia SifnaiosFollow

Major

Environmental Science

Faculty Mentor(s)

Kalina Manoylov

Keywords

algae, Fall Line, wetlands, water quality, biomass, chlorophyll a

Abstract

Wetlands are important aquatic habitats that provide a variety of ecosystem services such as improving water quality, storing excess water during floods, and nutrient cycling. Algae are an integral part of aquatic habitats as essential primary producers and important bioindicators of water quality. Bartram Forest and Babe and Sage wetlands are located north (Piedmont Plateau) and south (Coastal Plain) of the Georgia Fall Line respectively. These geologic regions differ in parent rock material, which results in different mineral content, nutrients, organic material, soil composition, and hydrologic properties. This study was conducted as an assessment of water quality in the two wetlands based on algal biomass and communities. High algal biomass indicates low water quality, and high diatom presence can indicate high quality environment. Standard physio, chemical, characteristics were taken with the BenthoTorch and YSI in the field. Additional precise chemical measurements were obtained from an external certified lab. Benthic alga biomass and algal group contribution to biomass were estimated in the lab using the bbe AlgaeGuard. Comparisons between the wetlands data were evaluated with two-sample Hotelling’s T-square tests. Based on the physical parameters tested, the wetlands were significantly different only in dissolved oxygen (p<0.001), but were not different in pH (p=0.297), conductivity (p=0.097) and temperature (p=0.882). Total Chlorophyll α measured in the lab was not significantly different (p=0.171), but due to significant difference in Si (p=0.027), K (p=0.004) and hardness (p=0.008) there were different algal compositions in each wetland. Green algae dominated the algal community at the Babe and Sage wetland, due to higher nutrient content and sunlight exposure. Bartram Forest wetland had lower sunlight availability, was farther from human activities, and primary production was dominated by diatoms. Significant differences in algal compositions between both geologic regions are attributed to sunlight exposure and proximity to human activities.

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Evaluation of Wetlands Algal Communities Located North and South of the Georgia Fall Line

Wetlands are important aquatic habitats that provide a variety of ecosystem services such as improving water quality, storing excess water during floods, and nutrient cycling. Algae are an integral part of aquatic habitats as essential primary producers and important bioindicators of water quality. Bartram Forest and Babe and Sage wetlands are located north (Piedmont Plateau) and south (Coastal Plain) of the Georgia Fall Line respectively. These geologic regions differ in parent rock material, which results in different mineral content, nutrients, organic material, soil composition, and hydrologic properties. This study was conducted as an assessment of water quality in the two wetlands based on algal biomass and communities. High algal biomass indicates low water quality, and high diatom presence can indicate high quality environment. Standard physio, chemical, characteristics were taken with the BenthoTorch and YSI in the field. Additional precise chemical measurements were obtained from an external certified lab. Benthic alga biomass and algal group contribution to biomass were estimated in the lab using the bbe AlgaeGuard. Comparisons between the wetlands data were evaluated with two-sample Hotelling’s T-square tests. Based on the physical parameters tested, the wetlands were significantly different only in dissolved oxygen (p<0.001), but were not different in pH (p=0.297), conductivity (p=0.097) and temperature (p=0.882). Total Chlorophyll α measured in the lab was not significantly different (p=0.171), but due to significant difference in Si (p=0.027), K (p=0.004) and hardness (p=0.008) there were different algal compositions in each wetland. Green algae dominated the algal community at the Babe and Sage wetland, due to higher nutrient content and sunlight exposure. Bartram Forest wetland had lower sunlight availability, was farther from human activities, and primary production was dominated by diatoms. Significant differences in algal compositions between both geologic regions are attributed to sunlight exposure and proximity to human activities.