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Harmful Algal Blooms and
Grand Lake:
Causes, Concerns, and
Management
Eugene Braig,
Program Director,
Aquatic Ecosystems
OSU Extension, School
of Environment and
Natural Resources
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds
• What is this stuff!?
• What causes it?
• Concerns
• Management strategies
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds
• What is this stuff!?
• What causes it?
• Concerns
• Management strategies
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Cyanobacteria are ordinarily responsible for
harmful algal blooms (HABs).
• Not true algae: Cyanobacteria are often called
“blue-green” algae.
• They are now recognized as bacteria that
contain chlorophyll and are capable of
photosynthesis.
• Cells of most species grow together in
colonies.
• Most are capable of fixing their own nitrogen
from the atmosphere using specialized cells
called heterocytes.
• Without the need for N compounds as nutrients, P
enrichment can favor cyanobacteria blooms.
• A bloom is simply an abundant or excessive
growth of algae or cyanobacteria.
What is this stuff!?
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
What is this stuff!?
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
The major HAB players
• Microcystis
• Colonies of small, spherical,
bright green globs that vary
buoyancy to seek optimal light
conditions.
• Can turn the water column green
or form large green slicks on the
surface.
• Patches of turquoise and white
foaminess often appear.
• Cannot fix nitrogen.
• The most common in Ohio
ponds, Grand Lake, and western
Lake Erie waters (the “Mike” of
“Annie, Fannie, and Mike”).
Photocredit:Me!
Photocredit:Jim
Crawford,OhioEPA
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Planktothrix (some planktonic
species used to be known as Oscillatoria)
• Colonies of planktonic filaments
that distribute through the
water.
• Often appears as classic “blue-
green” water.
• Can be associated with an oily-
looking surface film.
• Cannot fix nitrogen.
• Recently very common to
Ohio’s reservoirs and inland
waters including Grand Lake.
Photo credit: Linda Merchant-Masonbrink, Ohio EPA
The major HAB players
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Oscillatoria (and related benthic
species)
• Colonies of rather globby-looking
filaments growing on pond
substrates.
• Often form mats along the bottom
that float to the surface later in the
growing season.
• Lacks specialized cells but still fixes
nitrogen from the atmosphere.
• Very common to shallow waters of
ponds and relatively tolerant of low-
light conditions.
The major HAB players
Photo credit: Frank Gibbs
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Aphanizomenon
• Colonies of planktonic filaments that
often bundle together and look like
tiny grass clippings.
• Fixes atmospheric nitrogen in
heterocytes.
• Sometimes sold as a dietary
supplement. However, the
supplement is not regulated and
may contain cyanobacterial toxins.
Consumers beware!
• The second of three historically
dominant species in Lake Erie (the
“Fannie” of “Annie, Fannie, and
Mike”).
Photo credit: Dr. John Lehman,
University of Michigan
The major HAB players
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Lyngbya (the outdated name Plectonema
is still sometimes used)
• Colonies of clustered filaments,
usually visible to the naked eye.
• Often form dense mats along the
bottom that float to the surface later
in the growing season.
• Lacks specialized cells but still fixes
nitrogen from the atmosphere.
• One of Ohio’s recently problematic
species (specifically Lyngbya wollei),
especially on Maumee Bay near
Toledo.
Photocredits:Dr.Thomas
Bridgeman,UniversityofToledo
The major HAB players
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Cylindrospermopsis
• Colonies of planktonic filaments
that distribute through the water
column.
• Fixes nitrogen and can be
distinguished from Planktothrix by
teardrop-shaped heterocytes.
• A recent invader to Ohio’s Lake
Erie waters and Buckeye Lake.
Photo credit: David Patterson and Bob
Andersen, Provasoli-Guillard Center
The major HAB players
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Anabaena
• Colonies of hair-like filaments.
• Can be planktonic or form mats
along the bottom or near shore.
• Fixes atmospheric nitrogen in
heterocytes.
• The third of three historically
dominant species in Lake Erie (the
“Annie” of “Annie, Fannie, and
Mike”).
Photo credit: Stephen Hager
The major HAB players
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Nostoc
• Colonies of filaments that usually
clump into a green, gelatinous,
“marble-like” ball.
• Fixes atmospheric nitrogen in
heterocytes.
• Sometimes sold as a dietary
supplement. However, the
supplement is not regulated and
may contain cyanobacterial toxins.
Consumers beware!
Photo credit: Paul James
The major HAB players
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
What it is not
Duckweeds or watermeal (photo
credit: Mick Micacchion, Ohio EPA)
Filamentous green algae: Cladophora
(photo credit: Sairah Malkin, University of Waterloo)
Planktonic diatoms (photo
credit: Kannan and Lenca 2012)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds
• What is this stuff!?
• What causes it?
• Concerns
• Management strategies
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Available resources (from the perspective of
green stuff that lives in freshwater):
• Water.
• Physical habitat (the water column itself or
substrate/sediment).
• Sunlight (to fuel photosynthesis) and heat
energy.
• Nutrients.
What causes it?
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
What causes it?
• Primary nutrients: C and N.
– Carbon (C) tends to be abundant as carbonate (CO3
2−:
especially in the presence of limestone substrates) and
carbon dioxide (CO2: a byproduct of respiration).
– Nitrogen largely present as dissolved nitrogen gas
(N2), nitrate (NO3-), ammonia/ammonium (NH4+),
nitrite (NO2-), and organics. Unionized ammonia
(NH3) is both uncommon and toxic.
• Nitrogen cycle is bacteria driven; moves toward nitrification in
the presence of O2: ammonia → nitrite → nitrate.
• Carbon and nitrogen are abundant enough to
not commonly be limiting to freshwater
systems.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Primary nutrients: P.
– Solid/precipitate/particulate forms of phosphorus
(P) are not readily available as nutrients.
– Dissolved/soluble forms and especially phosphate
(PO4) tend to be retained by landscape, are
ordinarily present in low concentrations in water,
and thus are almost always limiting.
• Productivity algae and cyanobacteria responds directly
to dissolved reactive (DRP)/soluble reactive P (SRP)
concentrations.
– P is much more soluble in the absence of oxygen.
What causes it?
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Kalff, J. 2002. Limnology: Inland water
ecosystems. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Internal sources of excessive P
(…where DO is
dissolved oxygen)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Primary nutrients: P.
– A useful metric: the N:P ratio (A big player in
presence of HABs).
• In natural systems, 16:1 (the “Redfield ratio”) is a
benchmark; too far below can indicate P enrichment
and make problems.
– The role of nutrient richness and temperature:
• That threshold is higher in warm and/or nutrient
enriched systems like many ponds: problems often
evident below 20:1.
What causes it?
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
(Heidelberg University, National Center for Water Quality Research and Joe Conroy,
The Ohio State University as cited in Ohio EPA Div. of Surface Water. 2010. Ohio
Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force Final Report. Ohio EPA, Columbus.)
What causes it?
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
2011
• The Microcystis–Anabaena bloom of 2009 was the largest
in recent years in our sampling region (Tom Bridgeman,
University of Toledo, 2012).
• …until 2011!
What causes it?
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Photo: MERIS Satellite Image
October 9, 2011
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
(National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin.
Lake Erie HAB Bulletin, 11 October 2011)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
(National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin.
Lake Erie HAB Bulletin, 11 July 2012.)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
0 30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360
Day of Year
Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (metric tons)
Dissolved P loading in 2011 and ’12
(Heidelberg University, National Center
for Water Quality Research)
2011
2012
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
A summary of contributing factors
• First and foremost: The presence of
excessive nutrients. Excessive
nutrient loads and low N:P ratios
favor HABs.
• Low water levels / low rainfall (can
concentrate nutrients).
• Excessive runoff of nutrients with
surface waters (a problem on large
watersheds, like Lake Erie or Grand
Lake).
• Lack of competition for nutrients (i.e.,
no vascular plants).
• Calm water.
• Warm water temperatures.
• Selective grazing by zooplankton and
mussels.
• Progression of seasons.
What causes it?
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds
• What is this stuff!?
• What causes it?
• Concerns
• Management strategies
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
First, a contrast: “true” algae
Some major groups of planktonic freshwater
algae:
• Diatoms
– Glass (silica) cell wall.
– High lipid content (i.e., nutritional for
zooplankton).
– Cool-water blooms typical (even in winter).
• Green Algae
– Closely related to higher plants.
– Rarely bloom.
– Less lipid, but still nutritious.
(modified from Chaffin 2013)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
(modified from Aqua Link, Inc.)
(“algae”)
(energy)
Blue-green Algae/Cyanobacteria
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
HABs can:
• Pollute ponds and recreational
areas with scums.
• Cause taste and odor problems
in drinking water and fish tissue.
• Reduce oxygen levels through the
diel cycle or population crashes.
• Cause processing problems for
water processing…
Concerns
Microcystis (photo credit: Dr.
Thomas Bridgeman, University of Toledo)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• …and HABs have the capability to
produce toxins.
– These toxins can cause health
problems for animals and
humans, particularly if ingested.
– The presence of a HAB-forming
organism does not necessarily
mean toxin is being produced. Microcystis (photo credit: Dr.
Thomas Bridgeman, University of Toledo)
Concerns
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Off-flavor compounds
• Geosmin imparts a “muddy”
flavor/odor and…
• 2-Methylisoborneol (MIB), a
“musty” one to water and
fish.
– Predictors of taste and odor
compounds:
• Presence of a cyanobacteria
bloom.
• Positive correlations to
temperature
• negative correlations to seasonal
wind velocity.
(Flick 2011…and only included
because this erudite caption to
accompany a dude with a shrimp up
his nose is inherently funny.)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Off-flavor compounds: human
detection thresholds
Geosmin (ppb) MIB (ppb)
Water1 0.015 0.035
Lean fish (Channel Catfish)2 0.2 0.5
Oily fish (trout)3,4 1.2–1.5 0.5–0.8
1 Howgate (2004)
2 Grimm et al. (2004)
3,4 Persson (1980), Robertson and Lawton (2003)
Rules of thumb:
• Easily detected in water (yucky!).
• For recreational fishing ponds, more problematic with larger fish.
• Fattier tissues (like trouts) hold increased concentrations for longer
times.
• In spite of lower concentration, much more easily detected in
leaner fish (e.g., black basses, sunfishes, catfishes, and Yellow
Perch).
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Cyanobacterial toxins
• Neurotoxins: affect the central nervous system, causing
tingling, dizziness headaches etc. Cumulative effects of some
over time can lead to dementia or degenerative disorders
(e.g., saxitoxins and anatoxin-a).
• Hepatotoxins: affect the liver, causing gastrointestinal
symptoms. These are the most publicized affects of HABs and
sometimes attributed with livestock deaths (e.g., microcystins
and cylindrospermopsin).
• Dermatotoxins: affect the skin, causing rashes and itching
(“seaweed dermatitis”) or allergic reactions (e.g.,
Lyngbyatoxin-a).
• Ohio’s common cyanobacteria are known to produce toxins in
all these categories.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Reference Dose =
amount that can be
ingested orally by a
person, above which
a toxic effect may
occur, on a milligram
per kilogram body
weight per day basis.
Toxicity of Algal
Toxins Relative
to Other Toxic
Compounds
found in Water
Dioxin (0.000001 mg/kg-d)
Microcystin LR (0.000003 mg/kg-d)
Saxitoxin (0.000005 mg/kg-d)
PCBs (0.00002 mg/kg-d)
Cylindrospermopsin (0.00003 mg/kg-d)
Methylmercury (0.0001 mg/kg-d)
Anatoxin-A (0.0005 mg/kg-d)
DDT (0.0005 mg/kg-d)
Selenium (0.005 mg/kg-d)
Alachlor (0.01 mg/kg-d)
Cyanide (0.02 mg/kg-d)
Atrazine (0.04 mg/kg-d)
Fluoride (0.06 mg/kg-d)
Chlorine (0.1 mg/kg-d)
Aluminum (1 mg/kg-d)
Ethylene Glycol (2 mg/kg-d)
Botulinum toxin A (0.001 mg/kg-d)
Toxin Reference Doses
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Reference Dose =
amount that can be
ingested orally by a
person, above which
a toxic effect may
occur, on a milligram
per kilogram body
weight per day basis.
Toxicity of Algal
Toxins Relative
to Other Toxic
Compounds
found in Water
Dioxin (0.000001 mg/kg-d)
Microcystin LR (0.000003 mg/kg-d)
Saxitoxin (0.000005 mg/kg-d)
PCBs (0.00002 mg/kg-d)
Cylindrospermopsin (0.00003 mg/kg-d)
Methylmercury (0.0001 mg/kg-d)
Anatoxin-A (0.0005 mg/kg-d)
DDT (0.0005 mg/kg-d)
Selenium (0.005 mg/kg-d)
Alachlor (0.01 mg/kg-d)
Cyanide (0.02 mg/kg-d)
Atrazine (0.04 mg/kg-d)
Fluoride (0.06 mg/kg-d)
Chlorine (0.1 mg/kg-d)
Aluminum (1 mg/kg-d)
Ethylene Glycol (2 mg/kg-d)
Botulinum toxin A (0.001 mg/kg-d)
Toxin Reference Doses
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Common Ohio cyanobacterial taxa and
toxins that may be produced
Cyanobacteria
genus
Dermatoxins Hepatotoxins Neurotoxins
Cylindro-
spermopsin* Microcystins* Anatoxin-a* Saxitoxin*
Anabaena X X X X X
Aphanizomenon X X X
Cylindrospermopsis X X X
Lyngbya X X X
Microcystis X X
Nostoc X
Planktothrix X X X X
* Toxins for which the Ohio EPA
may test in public waters.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Cyanobacterial toxins
Microcystins, liver toxins produced by Microcystis and
several other cyanobacteria, is the only cyanobacterial
toxin well enough studied to have guidelines issued by the
World Health Organization (2003).
• Increased monitoring of drinking water at microcystin
concentrations > 1 ppb (μg/L).
• Risk to adult health from recreational contact with
microcystin moderate at concentrations of 4–20 ppb.
• Ohio Environmental Protection Agency can post
contact advisories at 6 ppb to protect children.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Cyanobacterial toxicity
• “In comparing the available indications of
hazards from cyanotoxins with other
water-related health hazards, it is
conspicuous that cyanotoxins have
caused numerous fatal poisonings of
livestock and wildlife, but no human
fatalities due to oral uptake have been
documented.”
• WHO. Chorus, & Bartram, eds. 1999. Toxic cyanobacteria in water:
a guide to their public health consequences, monitoring and
management. Routledge, London.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Detections on Grand Lake
• Microcystin detections now persist
throughout the year (extremely low in
winter months).
• First 2015 microcystin detection above
recreational advisory threshold (6 ppb):
– 18 February, 7.5 ppb at Celina water intake.
• Highest 2015 microcystin detection to
date:
– 15 June, 162 ppb at Windy Point Beach.
Ohio EPA (2015)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Detections on Grand Lake
27 July: 100.1 ppb
microcystins at
campground beach.
Ohio EPA (2015)
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• Toxins highest in internal organs, but also can be
found in fillets in small concentrations.
• Cyanotoxins actively eliminated by the liver: likely do
not bioaccumulate from lower trophic levels into
predatory fish (Ibelings and Chorus 2007).
• Microcystin can be taken into muscle tissue of fish
with exposure, but is eliminated within hours to days
(e.g., Wilson et al. 2008).
• However, black crappie fillets collected by the Ohio
EPA on Grand Lake St. Marys in June 2011 did
contain microcystin (Schmidt et al. 2013).
• At a minimum, remove skin from fillets and wash
thoroughly prior to cooking with water from a
municipal water supply.
Bottom line…
Cyanobacterial toxins in fish tissue
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds
• What is this stuff!?
• What causes it?
• Concerns
• Management strategies
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Management strategies
• Management by cliché:
– Approx. 1 proverbial g of prevention is of
similar value to 1 proverbial kg of cure!
• i.e., Prevention or at least reducing the
likelihood of bloom issues is much more
valuable than treatment.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Management strategies: prevention
• …Is much easier on small waters
with small (especially single-owner)
watersheds.
• Large sites with diverse, legitimate
watershed uses (including food
production/agriculture) become
much more challenging.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Management within large watersheds
by promoting voluntary action
Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force II: Final
Report (Nov. 2013)
• 20 recommendations in total, mostly concerning
nutrient management strategies in watershed
soils, that apply equally well to Grand Lake.
• The challenging bottom line:
– Both springtime and annual target loads of P and
soluble P target reduced by 40% from all sources.
http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw/lakeerie/index.aspx
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Management within large watersheds
via regulation
Watersheds in distress (OAC 1501:15-5-19 & 20,
Dec. 2010):
• Designated by Ohio Dept. of Agriculture's Chief.
• Applies to those who produce, apply, or receive
350 tons or 100,000 gallons of manure per year.
• Requires nutrient management plans including soil
testing “in accordance with the ‘Field Office
Technical Guide.’”
• To date, Grand Lake is the only designated
watershed.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Management within large watersheds
via regulation
Commercial fertilizer applicator certification
(Ohio S.B. 150, enacted August 2014):
• Applies to anybody who applies fertilizer to 50 or
more acres.
• Certification needs to be in place by September
2017.
• Certification requires application form, $30
application fee, and training every three years.
• Augments pesticide licensing program: fee waived
for those with current pesticide applicator license.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Management within large watersheds
via regulation
Agricultural pollution abatement program (Ohio S.B.
1, introduced 2 February, passed Senate 18 February,
passed House 25 March, and enacted 3 July 2015):
• Transfers much enforcement authority to the Ohio
Department of Agriculture and improves ability to
make and enforce rules.
• Bans the application of manure or fertilizer to frozen or
saturated soil or when rain is forecasted (exceptions
for injection/incorporation).
• Applies the same standards to smaller agricultural
operations as to the large (with possibility for
temporary exemptions to July 2014).
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Management within large watersheds
via regulation
Agricultural pollution abatement program (Ohio S.B.
1, introduced 2 February, passed Senate 18 February,
passed House 25 March, and enacted 3 July 2015):
• Requires water treatment to monitor phosphorus
discharges (December 2016).
• Forbids open-lake disposal of dredge materials within
Lake Erie (with permitted exemptions possible: July
2020).
• Revises permitted use of Healthy Lake Erie Fund.
• Designates Environmental Protection Agency to
coordinate harmful algal bloom response and
protocols.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
“The futuristic view”
• Approach anybody claiming to predict
the future with extreme skepticism!
• If we continue to load the system with
nutrients, I expect cyanobacteria will
continue to be a prominent feature of the
aquatic community.
• Given the nature of the Grand Lake
watershed, recovery will still likely take
some years.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
“The futuristic view”
• Personally, sadly, I’m always skeptical of society’s
willingness to effect change without being regulated.
• The general public is likely to continue to
misinterpret facts, downplay their personal role in
the issue (lawn care, suburban development, etc.),
and point the fingers of scapegoatery at the
agriculture industry in spite of their own fondness for
food.
• The agriculture industry is likely to feel put upon by
the scientific and management communities even
when proverbial fingers aren’t actually being
pointed.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
• State of Ohio clearing house for HAB info:
Ohio EPA sample results, advisory status
at ODNR public lakes, and filing illness
reports with ODH: ohioalgaeinfo.com.
• Including current revision of Ohio’s HAB
Response Strategy.
• Good visual catalog of blooms for
comparison.
Additional sources of info
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Additional sources of info
• HAB fact sheet: free from Ohio Sea Grant or
OSU-SENR Extension agents:
• Co-written by personnel from Ohio Sea Grant, OSU-SENR
Extension, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources-Division of Wildlife,
and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
• http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/_documents/publications/FS/FS-091-
2011%20Harmful%20Algal%20Blooms%20In%20Ohio%20Waters.pdf
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
Questions?
Harmful Algal Blooms and
Grand Lake
Eugene Braig,
Program Director,
Aquatic Ecosystems
614-292-3823
braig.1@osu.edu

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Grand Lake HABs

  • 1. Harmful Algal Blooms and Grand Lake: Causes, Concerns, and Management Eugene Braig, Program Director, Aquatic Ecosystems OSU Extension, School of Environment and Natural Resources
  • 2. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds • What is this stuff!? • What causes it? • Concerns • Management strategies
  • 3. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds • What is this stuff!? • What causes it? • Concerns • Management strategies
  • 4. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Cyanobacteria are ordinarily responsible for harmful algal blooms (HABs). • Not true algae: Cyanobacteria are often called “blue-green” algae. • They are now recognized as bacteria that contain chlorophyll and are capable of photosynthesis. • Cells of most species grow together in colonies. • Most are capable of fixing their own nitrogen from the atmosphere using specialized cells called heterocytes. • Without the need for N compounds as nutrients, P enrichment can favor cyanobacteria blooms. • A bloom is simply an abundant or excessive growth of algae or cyanobacteria. What is this stuff!?
  • 5. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION What is this stuff!?
  • 6. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION The major HAB players • Microcystis • Colonies of small, spherical, bright green globs that vary buoyancy to seek optimal light conditions. • Can turn the water column green or form large green slicks on the surface. • Patches of turquoise and white foaminess often appear. • Cannot fix nitrogen. • The most common in Ohio ponds, Grand Lake, and western Lake Erie waters (the “Mike” of “Annie, Fannie, and Mike”). Photocredit:Me! Photocredit:Jim Crawford,OhioEPA
  • 7. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Planktothrix (some planktonic species used to be known as Oscillatoria) • Colonies of planktonic filaments that distribute through the water. • Often appears as classic “blue- green” water. • Can be associated with an oily- looking surface film. • Cannot fix nitrogen. • Recently very common to Ohio’s reservoirs and inland waters including Grand Lake. Photo credit: Linda Merchant-Masonbrink, Ohio EPA The major HAB players
  • 8. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Oscillatoria (and related benthic species) • Colonies of rather globby-looking filaments growing on pond substrates. • Often form mats along the bottom that float to the surface later in the growing season. • Lacks specialized cells but still fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere. • Very common to shallow waters of ponds and relatively tolerant of low- light conditions. The major HAB players Photo credit: Frank Gibbs
  • 9. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Aphanizomenon • Colonies of planktonic filaments that often bundle together and look like tiny grass clippings. • Fixes atmospheric nitrogen in heterocytes. • Sometimes sold as a dietary supplement. However, the supplement is not regulated and may contain cyanobacterial toxins. Consumers beware! • The second of three historically dominant species in Lake Erie (the “Fannie” of “Annie, Fannie, and Mike”). Photo credit: Dr. John Lehman, University of Michigan The major HAB players
  • 10. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Lyngbya (the outdated name Plectonema is still sometimes used) • Colonies of clustered filaments, usually visible to the naked eye. • Often form dense mats along the bottom that float to the surface later in the growing season. • Lacks specialized cells but still fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere. • One of Ohio’s recently problematic species (specifically Lyngbya wollei), especially on Maumee Bay near Toledo. Photocredits:Dr.Thomas Bridgeman,UniversityofToledo The major HAB players
  • 11. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Cylindrospermopsis • Colonies of planktonic filaments that distribute through the water column. • Fixes nitrogen and can be distinguished from Planktothrix by teardrop-shaped heterocytes. • A recent invader to Ohio’s Lake Erie waters and Buckeye Lake. Photo credit: David Patterson and Bob Andersen, Provasoli-Guillard Center The major HAB players
  • 12. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Anabaena • Colonies of hair-like filaments. • Can be planktonic or form mats along the bottom or near shore. • Fixes atmospheric nitrogen in heterocytes. • The third of three historically dominant species in Lake Erie (the “Annie” of “Annie, Fannie, and Mike”). Photo credit: Stephen Hager The major HAB players
  • 13. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Nostoc • Colonies of filaments that usually clump into a green, gelatinous, “marble-like” ball. • Fixes atmospheric nitrogen in heterocytes. • Sometimes sold as a dietary supplement. However, the supplement is not regulated and may contain cyanobacterial toxins. Consumers beware! Photo credit: Paul James The major HAB players
  • 14. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION What it is not Duckweeds or watermeal (photo credit: Mick Micacchion, Ohio EPA) Filamentous green algae: Cladophora (photo credit: Sairah Malkin, University of Waterloo) Planktonic diatoms (photo credit: Kannan and Lenca 2012)
  • 15. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds • What is this stuff!? • What causes it? • Concerns • Management strategies
  • 16. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Available resources (from the perspective of green stuff that lives in freshwater): • Water. • Physical habitat (the water column itself or substrate/sediment). • Sunlight (to fuel photosynthesis) and heat energy. • Nutrients. What causes it?
  • 17. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION What causes it? • Primary nutrients: C and N. – Carbon (C) tends to be abundant as carbonate (CO3 2−: especially in the presence of limestone substrates) and carbon dioxide (CO2: a byproduct of respiration). – Nitrogen largely present as dissolved nitrogen gas (N2), nitrate (NO3-), ammonia/ammonium (NH4+), nitrite (NO2-), and organics. Unionized ammonia (NH3) is both uncommon and toxic. • Nitrogen cycle is bacteria driven; moves toward nitrification in the presence of O2: ammonia → nitrite → nitrate. • Carbon and nitrogen are abundant enough to not commonly be limiting to freshwater systems.
  • 18. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Primary nutrients: P. – Solid/precipitate/particulate forms of phosphorus (P) are not readily available as nutrients. – Dissolved/soluble forms and especially phosphate (PO4) tend to be retained by landscape, are ordinarily present in low concentrations in water, and thus are almost always limiting. • Productivity algae and cyanobacteria responds directly to dissolved reactive (DRP)/soluble reactive P (SRP) concentrations. – P is much more soluble in the absence of oxygen. What causes it?
  • 19. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Kalff, J. 2002. Limnology: Inland water ecosystems. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Internal sources of excessive P (…where DO is dissolved oxygen)
  • 20. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Primary nutrients: P. – A useful metric: the N:P ratio (A big player in presence of HABs). • In natural systems, 16:1 (the “Redfield ratio”) is a benchmark; too far below can indicate P enrichment and make problems. – The role of nutrient richness and temperature: • That threshold is higher in warm and/or nutrient enriched systems like many ponds: problems often evident below 20:1. What causes it?
  • 21. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION (Heidelberg University, National Center for Water Quality Research and Joe Conroy, The Ohio State University as cited in Ohio EPA Div. of Surface Water. 2010. Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force Final Report. Ohio EPA, Columbus.) What causes it?
  • 22. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION 2011 • The Microcystis–Anabaena bloom of 2009 was the largest in recent years in our sampling region (Tom Bridgeman, University of Toledo, 2012). • …until 2011! What causes it?
  • 23. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Photo: MERIS Satellite Image October 9, 2011
  • 24. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin. Lake Erie HAB Bulletin, 11 October 2011)
  • 25. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin. Lake Erie HAB Bulletin, 11 July 2012.)
  • 26. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 0 30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360 Day of Year Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (metric tons) Dissolved P loading in 2011 and ’12 (Heidelberg University, National Center for Water Quality Research) 2011 2012
  • 28. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION A summary of contributing factors • First and foremost: The presence of excessive nutrients. Excessive nutrient loads and low N:P ratios favor HABs. • Low water levels / low rainfall (can concentrate nutrients). • Excessive runoff of nutrients with surface waters (a problem on large watersheds, like Lake Erie or Grand Lake). • Lack of competition for nutrients (i.e., no vascular plants). • Calm water. • Warm water temperatures. • Selective grazing by zooplankton and mussels. • Progression of seasons. What causes it?
  • 29. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds • What is this stuff!? • What causes it? • Concerns • Management strategies
  • 30. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION First, a contrast: “true” algae Some major groups of planktonic freshwater algae: • Diatoms – Glass (silica) cell wall. – High lipid content (i.e., nutritional for zooplankton). – Cool-water blooms typical (even in winter). • Green Algae – Closely related to higher plants. – Rarely bloom. – Less lipid, but still nutritious. (modified from Chaffin 2013)
  • 31. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION (modified from Aqua Link, Inc.) (“algae”) (energy) Blue-green Algae/Cyanobacteria
  • 32. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION HABs can: • Pollute ponds and recreational areas with scums. • Cause taste and odor problems in drinking water and fish tissue. • Reduce oxygen levels through the diel cycle or population crashes. • Cause processing problems for water processing… Concerns Microcystis (photo credit: Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, University of Toledo)
  • 33. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • …and HABs have the capability to produce toxins. – These toxins can cause health problems for animals and humans, particularly if ingested. – The presence of a HAB-forming organism does not necessarily mean toxin is being produced. Microcystis (photo credit: Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, University of Toledo) Concerns
  • 34. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Off-flavor compounds • Geosmin imparts a “muddy” flavor/odor and… • 2-Methylisoborneol (MIB), a “musty” one to water and fish. – Predictors of taste and odor compounds: • Presence of a cyanobacteria bloom. • Positive correlations to temperature • negative correlations to seasonal wind velocity. (Flick 2011…and only included because this erudite caption to accompany a dude with a shrimp up his nose is inherently funny.)
  • 35. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Off-flavor compounds: human detection thresholds Geosmin (ppb) MIB (ppb) Water1 0.015 0.035 Lean fish (Channel Catfish)2 0.2 0.5 Oily fish (trout)3,4 1.2–1.5 0.5–0.8 1 Howgate (2004) 2 Grimm et al. (2004) 3,4 Persson (1980), Robertson and Lawton (2003) Rules of thumb: • Easily detected in water (yucky!). • For recreational fishing ponds, more problematic with larger fish. • Fattier tissues (like trouts) hold increased concentrations for longer times. • In spite of lower concentration, much more easily detected in leaner fish (e.g., black basses, sunfishes, catfishes, and Yellow Perch).
  • 36. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Cyanobacterial toxins • Neurotoxins: affect the central nervous system, causing tingling, dizziness headaches etc. Cumulative effects of some over time can lead to dementia or degenerative disorders (e.g., saxitoxins and anatoxin-a). • Hepatotoxins: affect the liver, causing gastrointestinal symptoms. These are the most publicized affects of HABs and sometimes attributed with livestock deaths (e.g., microcystins and cylindrospermopsin). • Dermatotoxins: affect the skin, causing rashes and itching (“seaweed dermatitis”) or allergic reactions (e.g., Lyngbyatoxin-a). • Ohio’s common cyanobacteria are known to produce toxins in all these categories.
  • 37. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Reference Dose = amount that can be ingested orally by a person, above which a toxic effect may occur, on a milligram per kilogram body weight per day basis. Toxicity of Algal Toxins Relative to Other Toxic Compounds found in Water Dioxin (0.000001 mg/kg-d) Microcystin LR (0.000003 mg/kg-d) Saxitoxin (0.000005 mg/kg-d) PCBs (0.00002 mg/kg-d) Cylindrospermopsin (0.00003 mg/kg-d) Methylmercury (0.0001 mg/kg-d) Anatoxin-A (0.0005 mg/kg-d) DDT (0.0005 mg/kg-d) Selenium (0.005 mg/kg-d) Alachlor (0.01 mg/kg-d) Cyanide (0.02 mg/kg-d) Atrazine (0.04 mg/kg-d) Fluoride (0.06 mg/kg-d) Chlorine (0.1 mg/kg-d) Aluminum (1 mg/kg-d) Ethylene Glycol (2 mg/kg-d) Botulinum toxin A (0.001 mg/kg-d) Toxin Reference Doses
  • 38. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Reference Dose = amount that can be ingested orally by a person, above which a toxic effect may occur, on a milligram per kilogram body weight per day basis. Toxicity of Algal Toxins Relative to Other Toxic Compounds found in Water Dioxin (0.000001 mg/kg-d) Microcystin LR (0.000003 mg/kg-d) Saxitoxin (0.000005 mg/kg-d) PCBs (0.00002 mg/kg-d) Cylindrospermopsin (0.00003 mg/kg-d) Methylmercury (0.0001 mg/kg-d) Anatoxin-A (0.0005 mg/kg-d) DDT (0.0005 mg/kg-d) Selenium (0.005 mg/kg-d) Alachlor (0.01 mg/kg-d) Cyanide (0.02 mg/kg-d) Atrazine (0.04 mg/kg-d) Fluoride (0.06 mg/kg-d) Chlorine (0.1 mg/kg-d) Aluminum (1 mg/kg-d) Ethylene Glycol (2 mg/kg-d) Botulinum toxin A (0.001 mg/kg-d) Toxin Reference Doses
  • 39. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Common Ohio cyanobacterial taxa and toxins that may be produced Cyanobacteria genus Dermatoxins Hepatotoxins Neurotoxins Cylindro- spermopsin* Microcystins* Anatoxin-a* Saxitoxin* Anabaena X X X X X Aphanizomenon X X X Cylindrospermopsis X X X Lyngbya X X X Microcystis X X Nostoc X Planktothrix X X X X * Toxins for which the Ohio EPA may test in public waters.
  • 40. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Cyanobacterial toxins Microcystins, liver toxins produced by Microcystis and several other cyanobacteria, is the only cyanobacterial toxin well enough studied to have guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (2003). • Increased monitoring of drinking water at microcystin concentrations > 1 ppb (μg/L). • Risk to adult health from recreational contact with microcystin moderate at concentrations of 4–20 ppb. • Ohio Environmental Protection Agency can post contact advisories at 6 ppb to protect children.
  • 41. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Cyanobacterial toxicity • “In comparing the available indications of hazards from cyanotoxins with other water-related health hazards, it is conspicuous that cyanotoxins have caused numerous fatal poisonings of livestock and wildlife, but no human fatalities due to oral uptake have been documented.” • WHO. Chorus, & Bartram, eds. 1999. Toxic cyanobacteria in water: a guide to their public health consequences, monitoring and management. Routledge, London.
  • 42. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Detections on Grand Lake • Microcystin detections now persist throughout the year (extremely low in winter months). • First 2015 microcystin detection above recreational advisory threshold (6 ppb): – 18 February, 7.5 ppb at Celina water intake. • Highest 2015 microcystin detection to date: – 15 June, 162 ppb at Windy Point Beach. Ohio EPA (2015)
  • 43. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Detections on Grand Lake 27 July: 100.1 ppb microcystins at campground beach. Ohio EPA (2015)
  • 44. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • Toxins highest in internal organs, but also can be found in fillets in small concentrations. • Cyanotoxins actively eliminated by the liver: likely do not bioaccumulate from lower trophic levels into predatory fish (Ibelings and Chorus 2007). • Microcystin can be taken into muscle tissue of fish with exposure, but is eliminated within hours to days (e.g., Wilson et al. 2008). • However, black crappie fillets collected by the Ohio EPA on Grand Lake St. Marys in June 2011 did contain microcystin (Schmidt et al. 2013). • At a minimum, remove skin from fillets and wash thoroughly prior to cooking with water from a municipal water supply. Bottom line… Cyanobacterial toxins in fish tissue
  • 45. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Harmful Algal Blooms in Ponds • What is this stuff!? • What causes it? • Concerns • Management strategies
  • 46. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Management strategies • Management by cliché: – Approx. 1 proverbial g of prevention is of similar value to 1 proverbial kg of cure! • i.e., Prevention or at least reducing the likelihood of bloom issues is much more valuable than treatment.
  • 47. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Management strategies: prevention • …Is much easier on small waters with small (especially single-owner) watersheds. • Large sites with diverse, legitimate watershed uses (including food production/agriculture) become much more challenging.
  • 48. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Management within large watersheds by promoting voluntary action Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force II: Final Report (Nov. 2013) • 20 recommendations in total, mostly concerning nutrient management strategies in watershed soils, that apply equally well to Grand Lake. • The challenging bottom line: – Both springtime and annual target loads of P and soluble P target reduced by 40% from all sources. http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw/lakeerie/index.aspx
  • 49. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Management within large watersheds via regulation Watersheds in distress (OAC 1501:15-5-19 & 20, Dec. 2010): • Designated by Ohio Dept. of Agriculture's Chief. • Applies to those who produce, apply, or receive 350 tons or 100,000 gallons of manure per year. • Requires nutrient management plans including soil testing “in accordance with the ‘Field Office Technical Guide.’” • To date, Grand Lake is the only designated watershed.
  • 50. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Management within large watersheds via regulation Commercial fertilizer applicator certification (Ohio S.B. 150, enacted August 2014): • Applies to anybody who applies fertilizer to 50 or more acres. • Certification needs to be in place by September 2017. • Certification requires application form, $30 application fee, and training every three years. • Augments pesticide licensing program: fee waived for those with current pesticide applicator license.
  • 51. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Management within large watersheds via regulation Agricultural pollution abatement program (Ohio S.B. 1, introduced 2 February, passed Senate 18 February, passed House 25 March, and enacted 3 July 2015): • Transfers much enforcement authority to the Ohio Department of Agriculture and improves ability to make and enforce rules. • Bans the application of manure or fertilizer to frozen or saturated soil or when rain is forecasted (exceptions for injection/incorporation). • Applies the same standards to smaller agricultural operations as to the large (with possibility for temporary exemptions to July 2014).
  • 52. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Management within large watersheds via regulation Agricultural pollution abatement program (Ohio S.B. 1, introduced 2 February, passed Senate 18 February, passed House 25 March, and enacted 3 July 2015): • Requires water treatment to monitor phosphorus discharges (December 2016). • Forbids open-lake disposal of dredge materials within Lake Erie (with permitted exemptions possible: July 2020). • Revises permitted use of Healthy Lake Erie Fund. • Designates Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate harmful algal bloom response and protocols.
  • 53. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION “The futuristic view” • Approach anybody claiming to predict the future with extreme skepticism! • If we continue to load the system with nutrients, I expect cyanobacteria will continue to be a prominent feature of the aquatic community. • Given the nature of the Grand Lake watershed, recovery will still likely take some years.
  • 54. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION “The futuristic view” • Personally, sadly, I’m always skeptical of society’s willingness to effect change without being regulated. • The general public is likely to continue to misinterpret facts, downplay their personal role in the issue (lawn care, suburban development, etc.), and point the fingers of scapegoatery at the agriculture industry in spite of their own fondness for food. • The agriculture industry is likely to feel put upon by the scientific and management communities even when proverbial fingers aren’t actually being pointed.
  • 55. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION • State of Ohio clearing house for HAB info: Ohio EPA sample results, advisory status at ODNR public lakes, and filing illness reports with ODH: ohioalgaeinfo.com. • Including current revision of Ohio’s HAB Response Strategy. • Good visual catalog of blooms for comparison. Additional sources of info
  • 56. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Additional sources of info • HAB fact sheet: free from Ohio Sea Grant or OSU-SENR Extension agents: • Co-written by personnel from Ohio Sea Grant, OSU-SENR Extension, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources-Division of Wildlife, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. • http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/_documents/publications/FS/FS-091- 2011%20Harmful%20Algal%20Blooms%20In%20Ohio%20Waters.pdf
  • 57. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION Questions?
  • 58. Harmful Algal Blooms and Grand Lake Eugene Braig, Program Director, Aquatic Ecosystems 614-292-3823 braig.1@osu.edu