Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017UT204B

Mapping Didymosphenia in the Logan River Drainage

Institute: Utah
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $33,763 Total Non-Federal Funds: $64,803

Principal Investigators: Janice Brahney, Bethany Neilson

Abstract: Didymosphenia geminata “Didymo” is a stalk forming algal species that has the potential to bloom covering large areas of a streambed. In recent decades increases in aggressive bloom-forming behavior have occurred in streams across the globe [1, 2]. In the Western US, bloom-forming behavior has been observed in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Washington. Based on similar climatic conditions, the species is anticipated to thrive in many Utah rivers [3], and has recently been observed in the Logan River. Though native to North America, the increase in bloom forming behavior is perceived as a relatively new phenomenon and the specific conditions that lead to widespread and persistent blooms remain unclear. Additional unknowns include the extent, history, and frequency of blooms and the potential implications for fish species of concern. The presence of Didymo blooms can also diminish the recreational and aesthetic value of a stream, and cause infrastructure problems such as the fouling of water intakes. Because Didymo can have significant ecosystem and ecological impacts, the lack of information on distribution, historical occurrence, habitat alteration, and impacts to fish communities represents a significant knowledge gap for the conservation and management of these aquatic ecosystems. Here we propose to map the distribution of Didymo in the Logan River drainage over a 6-month period. Specific goals are to (1) evaluate the environmental controls on bloom-forming behavior and create empirical models to evaluate river-reach risk, and (2) begin an outreach campaign to determine the distribution of Didymo across greater Utah.