Impact of Natural Water Sources on Algal Community Biodiversity: A Comparison of Lakes and Creeks

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Ayers, Kaitlynn
Gannon, Sydney
Smith, Hunter
Wetherelt, Hunter
Beck, Ashley
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Impact of Natural Water Sources on Algal Community Biodiversity: A Comparison of Lakes and Creeks
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The nutrient content and flow rate of water sources impact the growth and diversity of the microbial species they host. This experiment analyzes how biodiversity of aquatic algae and cyanobacterial communities is affected by different natural water sources, including both lakes and streams, local to Helena. The results of this experiment provide insight into the nutrient content and overall health of local aquatic ecosystems. Four local sources of water were compared: Prickly Pear Creek, Canyon Ferry Lake, Spring Meadow Lake, and tap water as a control. Water samples were filtered to remove existing microorganisms then algal samples from Canyon Ferry Lake were added and left to grow for two weeks. Phosphate and nitrate tests were also performed on the four water samples. Samples were then analyzed for microbial community diversity using 16S rRNA gene sequencing with MinION technology, and patterns community composition were analyzed using MicrobiomeAnalyst. 214,124 reads were classified and showed that Canyon Ferry had the greatest alpha diversity at the phylum level, followed by Spring Meadow, Prickly Pear, and tap water. The data for genus level diversity was not statistically significant with a p-value of 0.181.This research can be expanded by investigating the effect of varying nutrient levels on microorganism diversity at each site over the course of a year. With this data, a better understanding of the local bodies of water is gained and can be used to improve land management practices and wastewater management in the Helena area.
Degree Awarded
Life and Environmental Sciences