The under-ice dynamics of High Arctic lakes : the importance of physicochemical interactions with phytoplankton and bacterial communities in Stuckberry Valley, Ellesmere Island

Authors: Triglav, Katherine
Advisor: Antoniades, Dermot; Bonilla, Sylvia
Abstract: Even the world’s most northern ecosystems have been affected by climate warming and High Arctic lakes are no exception. Ellesmere Island is at the northernmost limit of Canada, and regime shifts have already been documented in its lakes towards taxa associated with longer growing seasons. It has been projected that the northern coast of Ellesmere Island is within a region that will experience the greatest annual warming in the Arctic over the next 80 years, and so understanding the functioning of its sensitive coastal lakes is critical before further changes occur. I studied a series of four lakes in Stuckberry Valley (82º54 N, 66º58 W) to give insight into their under-ice phytoplankton dynamics. My objectives were 1) identify and quantify the photosynthetic communities found in the Stuckberry Valley lakes, 2) determine the physicochemical variables that exerted the strongest control over within- and between-lake community variation, and 3) expand the understanding of under-ice High Arctic freshwater ecosystems and their function. Light intensities and DO concentrations exerted primary control over the distribution and abundance of photosynthetic organisms, in addition to important roles played by specific conductivity and nitrogen. These variables clearly distinguished two deep, oxic lakes from two shallow, anoxic lakes. Differences in photosynthetic community types between lakes and depths was strongly linked to DO concentrations: the red pigment algal line dominated in oxic waters, while purple sulfur bacteria (PSB) were found in anoxic zones. Pigments indicated that dinoflagellates, cryptophytes, and haptophytes were abundant throughout all four lakes, with lower concentrations of chrysophyte and chlorophyte pigments. My thesis represents one of the very few studies of High Arctic under-ice photosynthetic communities, and it significantly advances our understanding of ecological processes in this highly sensitive region.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2021
Open Access Date: 20 September 2021
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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