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The distribution and abundance ofa nuisance native alga, Didymosphenia geminata,in streams of Glacier National Park: Climate drivers and management implications

Park Science
By: , and 

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Abstract

Didymosphenia geminata (didymo) is a freshwater alga native to North America, including Glacier National Park, Montana. It has long been considered a cold-water species, but has recently spread to lower latitudes and warmer waters, and increasingly forms large blooms that cover streambeds. We used a comprehensive monitoring data set from the National Park Service (NPS) and USGS models of stream temperatures to explore the drivers of didymo abundance in Glacier National Park. We estimate that approximately 64% of the stream length in the park contains didymo, with around 5% in a bloom state. Results suggest that didymo abundance likely increased over the study period (2007–2009), with blooms becoming more common. Our models suggest that didymo abundance is positively related to summer stream temperatures and negatively related to total nitrogen and the distance downstream from lakes. Regional climate model simulations indicate that stream temperatures in the park will likely continue to increase over the coming decades, which may increase the extent and severity of didymo blooms. As a result, didymo may be a useful indicator of thermal and hydrological modification associated with climate warming, especially in a relatively pristine system like Glacier where proximate human-related disturbances are absent or reduced. Glacier National Park plays an important role as a sentinel for climate change and associated education across the Rocky Mountain region.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The distribution and abundance ofa nuisance native alga, Didymosphenia geminata,in streams of Glacier National Park: Climate drivers and management implications
Series title Park Science
Volume 28
Issue 2
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Park Science
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page 88
Last page 91
Country United States
State Montana
Other Geospatial Glacier National Park