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1. Nolan, Madeline. Diversity of Algae Slows Growth of Microcystis.

Degree: MS, Natural Resources and Environment, 2015, University of Michigan

As harmful algal blooms (HABs) have expanded in both size and scope, there have been increased efforts to design models that try to predict which ecosystems are at the greatest risk for a bloom. However, predicting blooms is a difficult process that has had limited success which we believe partly stems from the fact that efforts to date have considered a relatively small set of variables that influence algal growth. In particular, the focus on hydrology and abiotic conditions fails to consider biotic interactions that ultimately control the final composition of ecological communities. In this study we examined how species richness of resident green algae influenced the growth and carrying capacity of Microcystis in both low and high nutrient environments. We found that when either nitrogen or phosphorous were reduced, competition with green algae had a significant negative impact on the growth rate and final biomass of Microcystis, but the species richness of the green algal assemblage had no discernible effect on outcomes. However, in a high nutrient environment, a species rich community of green algae had a greater negative impact on the invasion success of Microcystis than a species-poor community. These results suggest that biotic interactions with phytoplankton can be important in limiting the establishment and proliferation of HAB species like Microcystis, and diverse communities can be more resistant to proliferation of HABs under nutrient conditions that favor blooms. In the future, the inclusion of biotic variables that influence bloom formation, in addition to the physical and abiotic requirements of a HAB species, could more accurately predict HAB events allowing for more effective management of our freshwater resources in the future. Advisors/Committee Members: Cardinale, Brad (advisor), Allan, J. David (committee member), Johengen, Thomas (committee member).

Subjects/Keywords: microcystis; harmful algae; species richness; Lake Erie

…are known to cause HABs, we chose to focus on species from the genus Microcystis because it… …for Microcystis to bloom, the species must first be introduced into the water column, which… …green algal species that were grown to steady-state before Microcystis was introduced at low… …Microcystis, all Low N/High P polycultures were counted to verify they contained multiple species of… …capacity (K) of Microcystis (F = 86.01, p <0.01). The same three species that… 

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APA (6th Edition):

Nolan, M. (2015). Diversity of Algae Slows Growth of Microcystis. (Masters Thesis). University of Michigan. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Nolan, Madeline. “Diversity of Algae Slows Growth of Microcystis.” 2015. Masters Thesis, University of Michigan. Accessed May 31, 2020.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Nolan, Madeline. “Diversity of Algae Slows Growth of Microcystis.” 2015. Web. 31 May 2020.


Nolan M. Diversity of Algae Slows Growth of Microcystis. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. University of Michigan; 2015. [cited 2020 May 31]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Nolan M. Diversity of Algae Slows Growth of Microcystis. [Masters Thesis]. University of Michigan; 2015. Available from: