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      A multi agency project funded by US EPA's STAR Program

 

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Great Lakes Diatom Indicators
Diatoms, a kind of algae, are an important part of aquatic ecosystems and serve as food for many aquatic insects and invertebrates. You can't see them, but they live in the slimy layer that builds up on almost everything that is in the water. Diatoms are microscopic single cells that live inside intricate cases of silica glass called "frustules." Frustules have two halves which fit together like a hat box with the living cell protected inside. Each diatom species has its own unique frustule design and some are quite beautiful.

Diatoms are very good indicators of water quality and habitat conditions. They respond rapidly to nutrient pollution, salinity changes, erosion and sedimentation, and changes in water clarity. Diatoms can also be used to determine past water quality and habitat conditions. Because the glass frustules of diatoms don't decompose, scientists are able to determine water quality conditions of 20, 50, 100, or 1,000 years ago based on the species of diatoms found buried in lake sediments.


In June 2004 we lost our good friend and colleague John Kingston. John was the lead investigator for the diatom/water quality project, and a world expert in the taxonomy and ecology of diatoms. We greatly miss John's sense of humor and good cheer.
 


    Developing Diatom Indicators, a presentation by Dr. John Kingston
Collecting diatoms    

Researchers:
Dr. John C. Kingston, Natural Resources Research Institute, Ely Field Station, University of Minnesota Duluth
Dr. Richard Axler, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth
Dr. Euan Reavie, Natural Resources Research Institute, Ely Field Station, University of Minnesota Duluth
Dr. Eugene F. Stoermer, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Dr. Jeffrey R. Johansen, Biology Department, John Carroll University, Ohio
Dr. Gerald V. Sgro, Biology Department, John Carroll University, Ohio


Cooperators:
Dr. Russell G. Kreis, Jr., US EPA, Mid-Continent Ecology Division, Grosse Ile, Michigan
Jo Thompson, US EPA, Mid-Continent Ecology Division, Duluth, Minnesota