Chlorophyll and Phycocyanin Raw Fluorescence May Inform Recreational Lake Managers on Cyanobacterial HABs and Toxins: Lake Fayetteville Case Study
Author: Brian E. Haggard, Erin Grantz, Bradley J. Austin, Nicole D. Wagner, and J. Thad Scott,
Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) have been observed across the USA and worldwide, and even locally in Lake Fayetteville (Arkansas, USA) once we started monitoring for total microcystin. The goal of this research note was to present a framework that might help guide cyanoHAB and toxin public health advisories at Lake Fayetteville. We evaluated nonparametric change points (i.e., thresholds) and hierarchical structure (using classification and regression trees) between total microcystin concentrations, chlorophyll, and phycocyanin; chlorophyll-a is a pigment in all algae, while phycocyanin is specific to cyanobacteria. Pigment concentrations and raw fluorescence units (RFUs) all showed significant thresholds with total microcystin concentrations, basically showing that as concentration or RFUs increased above the thresholds that total microcystin was greater at Lake Fayetteville. The regression tree with total microcystin concentrations showed a first split with phycocyanin RFUs at 4524, and then when phycocyanin RFUs were greater there was an optimal range for the phycocyanin to chlorophyll RFU ratio (0.64-1.5). At this recreational lake, total microcystin concentrations were greatest when water samples met these criteria, providing a possible framework for when lake managers might suggest an increased risk for elevated cyanobacterial toxins.
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