|Robin Barnes - Phytoplankton
Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
in the phytoplankton lab is lots of fun and always wet.
The lab technicians frequently go out into the field to retrieve
water samples for analysis performed back in the laboratory.
Turbidity, chlorophyll concentration, particulate absorbance, total
suspended solids (TSS), water absorbance and attenuation, and chromophoric
(colored) dissolved organic matter (CDOM) are quantified from these
analyses. This last water
quality is the pith of my independent project.
My project with Dr. Charles Gallegos aims at restoring and
protecting submerged aquatic vegetation.
This vegetation has diminished significantly since the 1960ís due
to deteriorating water quality. An increase in TSS and chlorophyll in the water column have
led to a substantial reduction in light reaching the benthic vegetation.
Dr. Gallegos is striving to help bring back the aquatic vegetation
by monitoring levels of TSS and chlorophyll in the water, and if possible,
to help reduce human and natural stressors that increase their
concentrations. CDOM is
another factor that affects the optical water quality of water, and thus
the vegetation. CDOM absorbs
light at specific wavelengths and reduces the amount of light that reaches
the benthos, although to a lesser degree than either TSS or chlorophyll.
Photochemical and bacterial decomposition reduce the CDOM
concentration within the water column.
My first project attempts to quantify the extent of CDOM
degradation caused by light and bacteria.
My second related project utilizes sediment cores taken from the
Rhode River to characterize the optical properties of particles with
different settling rates.
Robin's internship was funded by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
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