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Primary Production Modeling

Mosses are a common type of primary producer present in the Colorado River in Glen Canyon.

Mosses are a common type of primary producer present in the Colorado River in Glen Canyon.

 

Primary production from algae represents the base of food webs in many rivers, and dissolved oxygen is a by-product of primary production.  By developing detailed dissolved oxygen budgets for a river reach, which account for rates of air-water gas exchange, it is possible to estimate rates of primary production for entire reaches of river.  GCMRCs Sediment Transport Group (https://www.gcmrc.gov/discharge_qw_sediment/) is continuously measuring dissolved oxygen concentration at 5 locations downstream of Glen Canyon Dam.  In collaboration with Robert Hall and Robert Payne, the Aquatic Ecology Group is developing models for continuously estimating rates of primary production of the Colorado River in Glen, Marble, and Grand Canyon.

 

Close-up of Cladophora glomerata, a type of algae, in the Colorado River in Glen Canyon.  Cladophora is one of the dominant types of algae in Glen Canyon and contributes to overall primary production in the reach.

Close-up of Cladophora glomerata, a type of algae, in the Colorado River in Glen Canyon.  Cladophora is one of the dominant types of algae in Glen Canyon and contributes to overall primary production in the reach.

 

Mixing of the muddy Paria River with the mainstem Colorado River.  Suspended sediment turbidity from the Paria and other tributaries downstream of Glen Canyon is a strong control on primary production in Marble and Grand Canyon.

Mixing of the muddy Paria River with the mainstem Colorado River.  Suspended sediment turbidity from the Paria and other tributaries downstream of Glen Canyon is a strong control on primary production in Marble and Grand Canyon.

 

The muddy Colorado River near Tapeat’s Creek.  Primary production is zero when the river is this muddy.

The muddy Colorado River near Tapeat’s Creek.  Primary production is zero when the river is this muddy.

 

 

Publications:
Hall, R.O., T.A. Kennedy, and E.J. Rosi-Marshall, 2012.  Air-water oxygen exchange in a large whitewater river. Limnology and Oceanography: Fluids and Environments 2: 1-11.  DOI: 10.1215/21573689-1572535

Hall, R.O., T.A. Kennedy, E.J. Rosi-Marshall, W.F. Cross, H.A. Wellard, C.V. Baxter, 2010.  Aquatic production and carbon flow in the Colorado River Pages 105-112 in Proceedings of the Colorado River Basin Science and Resource Management Symposium, November 18–20, 2008, Scottsdale, Arizona. Eds T.S. Melis, J.F. Hamill, L.G. Coggins, P.E. Grams, T.A. Kennedy, D.M. Kubly, and B.E. Ralston U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5135. [to download the entire Proceedings, navigate here http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5135/].  To download this chapter, navigate here Aquatic Production and Carbon Flow in the Colorado River

 

For questions or comments about any of these projects, please send an email to citizen_science@usgs.gov

 

 

Photo credit: Freshwater Illustrated/ US Geological Survey

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Last Update: November 3, 2011