Paige Kleindl defends her thesis investigating relationship of nutrients, plants, and algae
On October 25th, 2019, graduate student Paige Kleindl successfully defended her master’s thesis, titled “Shoreline restoration and source of nutrient enrichment impacts on macrophyte and epiphytic algal communities.” Her committee members included Dr. Alan Steinman and Dr. Mark Luttenton from GVSU and Dr. Erica Young from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Paige monitored aquatic plants (macrophytes) and their attached algal communities (epiphytes) at restored shoreline habitats in Muskegon Lake and compared 2018 macrophyte data to previous survey years (2009-2012). Her results showed that restoration had positively impacted restored habitats however, substantial environmental fluctuation, specifically water level changes, limited and slowed macrophyte community improvements. Paige also conducted an indoor mesocosm experiment to evaluate the response of the macrophyte Vallisneria americana and its epiphytic algal community to different sources of elevated nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations (sediment porewater and/or water column nutrient enrichment). V. americana and epiphytic algae biomass responses to nutrient enrichment was driven by: (1) direct or indirect access to the enriched nutrient source(s), and (2) light reduction caused by nutrient-induced increases in phytoplankton biomass. In both the experiment and Muskegon Lake, results displayed the negative impact of epiphytic algae intercepting light and nutrients from reaching their host macrophyte. This research contributed to understanding the influence of climactic-scale environmental shifts on restoration projects and the influence of nutrients and light on primary producer biological interactions and biomass accumulation.
After submitting her final thesis revisions, Paige plans to continue her study of freshwater algae and pursuing a PhD.
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