Palmer Lambert, David Speth, Abigail Carter


Presentation: 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom



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In order for an aquatic ecosystem to function properly, primary production must occur through the growth of algae, which can modify the abundance of macroinvertebrates found in the substrate, thus altering the overall productivity of the ecosystem. The amount of algal growth can indicate the comprehensive health of aquatic ecosystems due to their high variability with nutrient levels. An excess in nutrients can cause algal blooms (unrestricted algal growth) which block light from passing through the photic (light permeable) layer of the water, while lack of nutrients can prevent algal growth altogether. Other aquatic life can be greatly affected by algal production levels, as algal blooms can deplete the water of oxygen and cause decreased survival rates for macroinvertebrates, but a lack of algal growth can also cause macroinvertebrate death due to a lack of food sources and habitat. We will begin by creating leaf litter bags using CPOM (Coarse Particulate Organic Matter) collected from a specific location at Old River Park. These leaf litter bags along with ceramic tiles will be placed in five separate locations in the oxbow lake at Old River Park. Locations varied in the amount of sunlight they received. After 14 and 21 days submerged in the water, we will remove the leaf litter bags and taxonomically identify the captured macroinvertebrates to the genus level; the ceramic tiles will be retrieved and any algae growth will be collected, dried, and weighed in aluminum pans. We found that algal biomass and macroinvertebrate abundance both had a positive relationship with the amount of light they were receiving, suggesting that optimal lighting conditions for both algae and macroinvertebrate habitat coincided with our full sun test sites. The overall diversity of macroinvertebrates, on the genus level, was also found to be significantly higher at our treatment sites with more sunlight. This suggests that environments that receive more sunlight have greater capabilities to support a larger variety of macroinvertebrate species, which could be correlated to high sun environments typically being able to produce a more abundant algae community. The correlation between algal biomass, macroinvertebrates and sunlight suggest that it should be of relative importance to maintain and protect areas that receive high levels of sunlight in aquatic ecosystems.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project 202310 BIO 459L 01

Primary Advisor

Chelse Prather

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Half a Pocketful of Sunshine: Partially Shaded Sites Provide a Sanctuary for Species Diversity