Honors College Thesis

 

A Model of Mesodinium Rubrum Blooms in the Columbia River Estuary Public

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  • Every year in the late summer, patches of the Columbia River estuary begin to turn red. These patches are blooms of mixotrophic ciliates (Myrionecta rubra or Mesodinium rubrum/major) (MR) that ingest the chloroplast of their prey, the cryptophytes (CR) Teleaulax amphioxeia (Peterson et al., 2013), and use the acquired organs to photosynthesize. The ecological cues that trigger this bloom and its impact on the estuary biogeochemistry are not fully understood. A one-dimensional five-component ecosystem model was applied and tested in a MATLAB framework. This paper describes sensitivity analyses of the model with respect to nitrate advection, MR and CR maximum uptake and mortality rates, and the rate of MR photosynthesis. The impact of vertical migration and the importance of the seed population were also considered. A set of parameters was selected to produce an optimal surface bloom of MR and CR comparable to the one observed in the chlorophyll-a and phycoerythrin measured at the south channel endurance station, SATURN 03, in 2010. Most of the parameters are positively correlated with the MR and CR bloom timing, duration, and peak. Due to the MR photoautotrophy dependence on their prey, parameters related to CR have the strongest impact on the MR bloom. Keywords: Mesodinium rubrum, Myrionecta rubra, Mesodinium major, Cryptophyte, Phytoplankton, Teleaulax amphioxeia, Columbia River, Estuary, Red Bloom
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  • This research was supported by the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP), under the grant award 0424602, and the University Honors College.
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