BearTooth Mountains 2010

BearTooth Mountains 2010

Assessing the release of reactive nitrogen by melting alpine glaciers: effects on diatom diversity and water clarity in lake ecosystems over the last century.

Krista Slemmons, Jasmine Saros, Carmen Daggett, Courtney Wigdahl, Dominic Winski, Caleb Slemmons

Beartooth Mountains (central Rockies), Montana and Wyoming – August, 2011

The goal this expedition was to understand how melting mountain glaciers affect the structure and function of alpine lake ecosystems. Specifically, we hoped to address how primary producers in alpine lakes respond to changes in nutrient flux and water clarity from glacial meltwater. Data collected will also be utilized to predict the fate of these important phytoplankton communities. It is expected that changes in nutrient levels from an increase in glacial meltwater may disrupt diatom assemblages and overall lake productivity. Few studies have addressed this issue or made an attempt to determine the true impact of the recession and ultimately the cessation of glaciers on alpine lake ecosystems. We are addressing two key questions:1) How does the nutrient chemistry of glacial meltwater alter the productivity and biodiversity of lake ecosystems? 2) What happens to biodiversity and water clarity of lake ecosystems after glaciers completely disappear? In addition, the field crew collected profiles from 10 lakes, several which were sampled for the first time, to be included in a database of profiles covering the last ten years and additionally collected samples from the inlet and outlets of glacially fed lakes to be included in research studying the fate of glacial nutrients as they enter a lake ecosystem.

Expedition Notes in Pictures