UBC Undergraduate Research

Effects on biofilm growth due to the interactions between different levels of dissolved organic carbon and nutrients Chen, Jennifer


Biofilms consist of a complex community of microscopic organisms from various taxa that play an important role in any freshwater ecosystem. They perform various ecological functions, such as decomposition of organic matter, nutrient cycling, oxygen availability, water quality, and making up the base of the food web. From a management perspective, biofilms are also an indicator of ecosystem health and productivity since their overall growth can be determined by the amount of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nutrients available in the system. While many studies have examined the effects of varying nutrient conditions, there has been less research on the interactive effects between the two factors. This study, done through a fully crossed factorial experimental design, examines a gradient of increasing DOC vs. increasing nitrogen and phosphorus (N:P) concentrations. The addition of grazers Glossosoma penitum was used to determine the effect of grazers on biofilm accumulation. While the experiment itself did not show evidence of any statistically significant interactions between DOC and N:P (p-value 0.098 for biomass, and 0.366 for chlorophyll-α), the subsequent literature search yielded other studies that examine a significant coupling effect, as well as significant grazer influence on overall biomass and algal proportions.

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