How Does Human Land Use Affect Algae Growth?

Bryce Colt, Collin Ciszweski, James Biggerstaff, Taylor Collins, William Mimbs


Algae can be found growing in various conditions or locations, and are used for practical means such as biofuels or animal products. In order to identify what factors contribute to maximum algae growth, we must observe the human land use in various locations and the algae populations that grow in those locations, while also monitoring growth to ensure detrimental overgrowth does not take place. We hypothesized that a water sample location near a golf course, because of its availability of rich fertilizer nutrients that could run off into the water, would stimulate a higher growth of algae population. We began with four different samples of water from various locations around the Oklahoma City area, and using a microscope and hemocytometer, counted the number of algae cells observed in each sample. We also gathered data from Google Maps of the human land use 1 km around each sample to see how the various human land use conditions contributed to the overall algae population. We found that rather than the highest algae population being contained in the sample from the Hefner Golf Course, the most algae was actually located in the sample from the Dolese Main. This could be due to the fact that the location of the Dolese Main sample had the largest amount of surrounding residential areas and homes, allowing for a large amount of nutrient run off and corresponding growth of algae as compared to the other sample locations. In the future, a more thorough experiment could include different variables such as weather effect and human land use over an extended period of time. This study is important concerning general scientific knowledge due to the importance of a balance between beneficial algae growth and the point when it becomes harmful to the surrounding ecosystems and communities. 

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