Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Martin T Auer


Excessive Cladophora growth in the Great Lakes has led to beach fouling and the temporary closure of nuclear power plants and has been associated with avian botulism and the persistence of human pathogens. As the growth-limiting nutrient for Cladophora, phosphorus is the appropriate target for management efforts. Dreissenids (zebra and quagga mussels) have the ability to capture particulate phase phosphorus (otherwise unavailable to Cladophora) and release it in a soluble, available form. The significance of this potential nutrient source is, in part, influenced by the interplay between phosphorus flux from the mussel bed and turbulent mixing in establishing the phosphorus levels to which Cladophora is exposed. It is hypothesized that under quiescent conditions phosphorus will accumulate near the sediment-water interface, setting up vertical phosphorus gradients and favorable conditions for resource delivery to Cladophora. These gradients would be eliminated under conditions of wind mixing, reducing the significance of the dreissenid-mediated nutrient contribution.

Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) levels were monitored over dreissenid beds (densities on the order of 350•m-2 and 3000∙m-2) at a site 8 m deep in Lake Michigan. Monitoring was based on the deployment of Modified Hesslein Samplers which collected samples for SRP analysis over a distance of 34 cm above the bottom in 2.5 cm intervals. Deployment intervals were established to capture a wind regime (calm, windy) that persisted for an interval consistent with the sampler equilibration time of 7 hours. Results indicate that increased mussel density leads to an increased concentration boundary layer; increased wind speed leads to entrainment of the concentration boundary layer; and increased duration of quiescent periods leads to an increased concentration boundary layer. This concentration boundary layer is of ecological significance and forms in the region inhabited by Cladophora (6770 kB)
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