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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2023

Nutrient abundance, algae growth, and eutrophication of small water systems in north-eastern Wisconsin

Dylan Stone

Sophomore, Microbiology & environmental science


The focus of the study is to determine whether large-scale algae blooms in Wisconsin affect biodiversity in freshwater systems throughout the state. We will be focusing on a pond linked to the fox river system, as there have been small numbers of Northern Pike (Esox lucius) that have utilized the pond presumably for reproduction. The pond exhibits large algae blooms annually, typically starting to cover <2/3 of the pond surface by June. The study will focus on physical removal of algae using barley straw as a medium of decomposition, one of the products of its decomposition is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is useful in destroying algae as H2O2 has a weak central bond and will form a hydroxyl radical when its bond breaks. This will target the cell wall of nearby organic compounds such as the algae and
force the bond to break to reform with the radical, essentially killing the algae. The byproducts of this reaction are simply O2 and H2O (oxygen and water). There is no toxic residue left behind in the water. Seeing as the barley straw will be introduced via the surface of the water and the reaction will happen relatively quickly, it is unlikely that other organisms will be negatively affected by this process. Any reaction with other organisms such as plants or fish will only damage epithelial cells, however a smaller protist such as algae will be removed quite efficiently.will return.

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