TROPHIC STATE AND FACTORS RELATING TO PHYTOPLANKTON COMMUNITY COMPOSITION AND DISTRIBUTION IN LAKE DIEFENBAKER, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA
Planktonic algae are useful as indicators of water quality because their composition and distribution reflects environmental condition in lakes. Therefore, understanding their dynamics can aid certain water quality management goals. Lake Diefenbaker is a large mesotrophic reservoir in the Canadian Prairies. Approximately 98 % of its inflow is from the South Saskatchewan River. The composition and ecology of the phytoplankton community has not been reported comprehensively since the 1980s. This is a potential problem for a reservoir with multiple end users. Therefore, I collected epilimnetic whole water samples along its length from June to October in 2011 and in 2012. I examined the phytoplankton community and related their distribution to environmental factors. A total of 72 phytoplankton genera were observed with the chlorophytes having the highest number of genera (33). The increased nutrient load and non-algal turbidity associated with high inflow from the South Saskatchewan River may be related to the dominance of the cryptophytes and bacillariophytes (together constituting ~89 % of the total phytoplankton biomass). The cryptophytes were abundant during periods of high flow rates and thermal stratification whereas the bacillariophytes were abundant during cool, isothermal conditions. Lake Diefenbaker is characterized by numerous embayments. Some of these embayments are exposed to human activities including development (housing, golf courses, marinas) and livestock operations (e.g., cattle watering). These localized activities could increase the frequency or size of algal blooms that will adversely affect the water quality. Therefore, I compared the phytoplankton community composition from eight exposed embayments, four unexposed embayments and six main channel sites. Phytoplankton community compositions were not significantly different in exposed, unexposed embayments and main channel sites (P > 0.05). High flows may have overridden localized influence from embayments. Hence, similar environmental conditions were present in the embayments and main channel. Blooms of cyanobacteria are of concern because of the potential of some genera to produce cyanotoxins. I examined cyanobacteria in Lake Diefenbaker. Cyanobacterial biomass was low in Lake Diefenbaker (< 5 %). However, I observed some potential toxin and bloom-forming genera that may threaten the water quality under different environmental conditions in the future.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
CommitteeDavies, John-Mark; Sheard, John; Wickstrom, Mark; Hudson, Jeff
Copyright DateSeptember 2015
Cryptophytes, bacillariophytes, cyanobacteria, inflow, reservoir