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River control points for algal productivity revealed by transport analysis

March 1, 2024

Measurement of planktonic chlorophyll-a—a proxy for algal biomass—in rivers may represent local production or algae transported from upstream, confounding understanding of algal bloom development in flowing waters. We modeled 3 years of chlorophyll-a transport through a 394-km portion of the Illinois River and found that although algal biomass is longitudinally widespread, most net production occurs at river control points in the upper reaches (up to 3.7 Mg chlorophyll-a y−1 km−1). Up to 69% of the algal biomass in the upper river was a result of within-reach production, with the remainder recruited from headwaters and tributaries. High chlorophyll-a measured farther downstream was largely because of transport from source-area control points, with substantial net losses of algal biomass occurring in the lower river. Modeling the often-overlooked river transport component is necessary to characterize where, when, and why planktonic algae grow and predict how far and fast they move downstream.

Publication Year 2024
Title River control points for algal productivity revealed by transport analysis
DOI 10.1029/2023GL105137
Authors Noah Schmadel, Judson Harvey, Jay Choi, Sarah M. Stackpoole, Jennifer L. Graham, Jennifer C. Murphy
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Research Letters
Index ID 70252084
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center; Central Midwest Water Science Center; WMA - Earth System Processes Division