Freshwater Benthic Algal Response to Elevated Carbon Dioxide

Project Overview
Project Abstract: 
The effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide on freshwater algae are relatively understudied, though terrestrial plants grown under elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have been shown to produce increased biomass, structural compounds and chemical defenses. If similar effects occur for freshwater algae, impacts would propagate through other trophic levels of aquatic ecosystems. In this study, flow-through systems will be used to simulate a temperate stream. Benthic algae will be grown under ambient (380 ppm CO2) and elevated (1,000 ppm CO2, a worst-case scenario under a fossil fuel-intensive future world) CO2 conditions. Changes in biomass, community dynamics, pigment production, and chemical defenses will be quantified. The study will improve understanding of elevated CO2 effects on a freshwater ecosystem and contribute towards understanding of the role of freshwater algae in carbon capture and storage and in the future global carbon cycle.
Investigator Info
Funding agency: 
Years research project active: 
2008 to 2010