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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

DIATOM VOUCHER FLORA AND COMPARISON OF COLLECTION METHODS FOR SOUTHEASTERN TRIBUTARY UPPER THREE RUNS CREEK**

Abstract

Nutrient loading has lead to degradation of fresh water ecosystems and surface water resources. These ecosystems are necessary to provide potable water, productive fisheries, and safe recreational areas. The mediation of nutrient enrichment impacts has cost the United States billions of dollars annually. Due to the scarcity and necessity of these resources, it is imperative that the water quality of these systems is protected. Water quality monitoring through biological assessments is important for collecting and analyzing data concerning nutrient enrichment. Diatoms have been found to indicate changes in water quality better than other biota (fish and macroinvertebrates) currently used in biological assessments. Therefore, understanding diatom biodiversity would yield insight about the eutrophication of an ecosystem and consequently its protection. However, diatom biodiversity in the southeastern United States remains largely unknown. To better understand diatom communities and condition gradients, the U.S. Geological Survey and other North American institutions have created “voucher flora” consisting of light micrographs of samples with corresponding names associated with each diatom and project. The Savannah River is one of Georgia’s largest rivers, which provides potable water to an estimated 1.4 million people. Upper Three Runs Creek (UTRC) is a tributary of the Savannah River, and is known as a southeastern biodiversity hotspot. This creek is designated by the Savannah River Site to receive minimal anthropogenic impacts and serve as a control site in scientific studies. In this study, we aim to: 1) create a voucher flora for warmer months for an upstream site along UTRC, and 2) compare algal biodiversity estimates from different sampling methods. Our methodologies consist of collecting triplicate samples from two periphytometers composite samples (i.e., combined water column, vegetation, and substrate samples). We expect to find high diatom biodiversity at our site and significant differences across collection methods.

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