First Advisor

Richard Petersen

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Freshwater phytoplankton -- Washington (State) -- Mount Saint Helens Region, Lake ecology -- Washington (State) -- Mount Saint Helens Region



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vi, 274 p.)


Phytoplankton communities in fifteen lakes in the Mt. St. Helens area were surveyed to assess the abundance and species present. Eleven of the lakes were inside the blast zone of the 1980 eruption and four were located outside the blast zone as a comparison. The hypothesis is that lakes will cluster together based on the algal species present and that some algae will be correlated with certain environmental conditions. A cluster analysis was performed to determine if the lakes would group together based on algal abundance. There did not appear to be any distinct clustering among the study lakes, but this analysis did help to sort out some similarities of algal species present between lakes. It demonstrated that the lakes outside the blast zone were not functional as control lakes because they were very different from the blast-zone lakes. They had different assemblages of algae and their origin was so different from the blast-zone lakes that there was little overlap between them. The factor analysis was applied to determine the relationships between environmental variables and phytoplankton. The hypothesis is that certain algae are associated with each other and with identifiable environmental factors. Factor analysis should detect these patterns. The factors represent some condition in the environment but the analysis would be virtually meaningless unless these conditions can be recognized and the factors named. From the factor analysis alone, I could not name the factors but returned to the task after the canonical correlation analysis was performed. The canonical correlation analysis gave some clues to identify the environmental conditions that exert control on these algae. The most useful statistical technique used in this study was the canonical correlation analysis. This analysis is a useful tool in community ecology studies where species-environment relationships can be inferred from community composition and environmental data. The environmental data used was nutrient and light attenuation present at the time the phytoplankton samples were taken. From this analysis I summarized a list of algae and with what environmental conditions that they are associated. Trophic state categories were assigned to the lakes from a trophic state index based on phytoplankton biovolume.


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