Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Ecology

Advisor/Chair:

Janice Brahney

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Soren Brothers

Third Advisor:

Michelle Baker

Abstract

Human activities have long had a negative impact on the water quality of freshwater lakes around the world. Utah Lake, located in north-central Utah, has been a subject of such impacts, as the lake experiences recurrent harmful algal blooms during the summer months. Lake warnings and closures have made the public increasingly aware of the ecological and economic impact of these blooms. The objectives of this study were to: 1) compare historical and present-day water quality and ecosystem conditions using environmental data contained in sediment cores, 2) identify whether, and when, Utah Lake transitioned from clearwater to turbid conditions, and 3) incorporate historically-validated lake plant community structure models into establishing forward-thinking lake management targets. The first two objectives will guide lake remediation efforts by providing insight into where lake managers should set our water quality goals and help identify the main driver(s) of eutrophication in Utah Lake. Environmental data from sediment cores indicate a transition in the lake’s recent history, marking a shift to greater phytoplankton dominance, which I attribute to the introduction of invasive common carp around 1881. The third objective provides management and restoration efforts with the water clarity requirements for returning the lake to its historical ecological state.

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