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News and events

News & events

Bukaveckas’ research a helpful link for water quality problems in Western Australia

May 24, 2016

On May 4, Dr. Paul Bukaveckas gave a seminar at the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia, as part of the OI Futures Forum. In his talk titled “Mechanisms Driving Phytoplankton Turnover”, Dr. Bukaveckas addressed the fact that there is long-standing interest in the role of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ forces in regulating material and energy cycling within ecosystems.  

An applied aspect of this problem concerns top-down effects that may mitigate (via grazing) or exacerbate (via nutrient recycling) the effects of nutrient enrichment on aquatic primary production.  Researchers at the Rice Rivers Center quantified the abundance, feeding and diet of zooplankton, benthic filter-feeders, and planktivorous and detritivorous fish in the tidal-fresh segment of the James River Estuary to assess the importance of primary consumers in removing phytoplankton biomass and recycling nutrients.  They found that consumer-mediated fluxes of chlorophyll A and nitrogen were small in comparison to other fluxes regulating phytoplankton abundance (production, respiration, advection) and nitrogen availability (external inputs, internal recycling).  This finding has implications for understanding the mechanisms that regulate turnover of chlorophyll, nitrogen and phosphorous in phytoplankton communities.

Dr. Bukaveckas is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University and holds a joint appointment with the Center for Environmental Studies. His area of expertise is Phytoplankton Ecology with a focus on factors controlling algal production and the role of primary producers in nutrient and organic matter cycling. His research includes studies of the effects of nutrient inputs on streams, rivers, and estuaries in the United States, Eastern Europe and Western Australia. His current work focuses on the occurrence of harmful algal blooms and water quality problems in the James River, a sub-estuary of Chesapeake Bay; similar problems are arising from nutrient inputs to estuaries along the western coast of Australia.

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