Errera, Reagan Michelle (2003-05). Inhibition and success of prymnesium parvum invasion on plankton communities in Texas, USA and prymnesium parvum pigment dynamics. Master's Thesis.
Prymnesium parvum Carter, a haptophyte species capable of forming harmful algal blooms (HABs), has been identified in fresh and brackish water habitats worldwide. In Texas, P. parvum blooms have diminished local community revenues from losses to tourism, fishing, and hatchery production. In this thesis, P. parvum dynamics were studied using in-situ microcosm experiments at Lake Possum Kingdom, Texas during three seasons (fall, winter, spring) in 2004-2005. Specifically, nutrient additions were used to test the hypothesis that increased nutrient levels would not enhance P. parvum's ability to invade phytoplankton communities. In addition to full nutrient additions to levels of f/2 media, other treatments included nutrient additions deficient in either nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P). Additionally, barley straw extract was tested as a growth inhibitor to prevent P. parvum blooms. Furthermore, P. parvum initial population density was examined to test the hypothesis that increased initial populations could promote an increase in P. parvum population densities. Findings indicated that P. parvum populations in Lake Possum Kingdom would not likely gain a selective advantage over other species when inorganic nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) were not limiting. P. parvum did, however, gain an advantage during both N- and P-limited conditions as indicated by toxicity, cell concentrations, and bulk phytoplankton community shifts. Furthermore, P. parvum blooms in Lake Possum Kingdom would likely not be inhibited by barley straw extract application. Initial population densities affected the final population density, but only when initial populations were low. A method to quickly and accurately detect the presence of P. parvum is needed due to P. parvum's potential to cause toxic and lethal blooms. This thesis tested whether P. parvum photopigments are conservative regardless of growth conditions and could be used to quantify the relative abundance of P. parvum in mixed community samples. If biomarker pigments are conservative, then an optimized version of CHEMTAX could be employed as an alternative diagnostic tool to microscopy for enumeration of P. parvum. However, P. parvum pigments in the Texas strain were not conservative throughout the growth cycle and therefore may not be a reliable indicator of cell abundance.