Information in this section is from the 2003 Golden Alga Workshop and was current at that time. Please see the main Golden Alga page and Current Bloom Status for up-to-date information.

Golden Alga Workshop

Panel Discussion Notes

Each of the panel members was asked to offer specific recommendations for managers.

Golden Alga Workhsop discussionsDon Anderson:

  • We’ve got to learn much more about bloom dynamics and what’s going on in reservoirs. It’s crucial to understand why blooms are declining, what happens that triggers their end, and the role of nitrogen and phosphate limitation.
  • Cell and toxin detection techniques must be advanced. We need the ability to identify and measure a single toxin, or 4-5 multiple toxins simultaneously. This is a complex, difficult challenge.
  • Mitigation using basic approaches (e.g. barley straw bales) should be studied in appropriate systems. This can be started almost immediately in hatcheries.
  • More research needs to be directed toward the modeling of bloom development and migration, and more meetings like this one will speed the understanding and dissemination of findings.

Edna Graneli:

  • Hand-held probes are needed for field sampling. Using them for regular sampling will be useful in data collection and situational analysis.
  • Experimenting to determine the effects of strong light for 24 hours (especially in hatcheries) would establish the effectiveness of this approach as a mitigation strategy.

Are you suggesting we should count the occurrence of empty cells as indication of allelopathy?

Carmelo Tomas:

  • This kind of problem will require great coordination among multidisciplinary task force members. Greater organization and cooperation is needed. Identifying flexible funding alternatives will be one of our first tasks. State, federal, non-government agencies, and public health departments all will have roles to play in addressing this issue.<
  • Overall management efforts must be closely coordinated. Inter-jurisdictional issues may complicate our response, but they must be addressed.
  • The field component will provide the background and frontline data gathering.
  • The lab component (using cell cycles) will help us understand the biological side.
  • The chemical dimension of toxins must be identified. A greater understanding of toxin half-life, persistence, and lethal levels is required.
  • We must be able to concisely and persuasively explain the importance of study and action to Legislatures. Making the case for why research is crucial may require creative “packaging” of our messages. Researchers and practitioners must be able to speak with one voice on this issue. Confusion and inconsistency of messages can be fatal to lobbying efforts.

Should field work concentrate on the originating locations instead of where the organisms may have moved downstream? Wyoming headwaters may be a case; residents there are not aware they have Prymnesium yet.
They should be contacted. This is a good and potentially an ideal location for comparisons and study with the Texas organism.

  • Establishing a history of origin is vital. We should begin to develop solid data that correlations can be drawn from.
  • Predictable trends will emerge if better records can be kept and shared.

Paul Kugrens:

  • We need greater increased knowledge about the alga, including algal ID, biology, phycology, lifecycles, and classes.
  • Texas experts on phycology should be contacted more frequently. List, communicate, and correspond with them.

Golden Alga Workshop participantsSteidinger: We must emphatically state that this isn’t a 2-year problem when approaching the Legislature. Expectations should be set that it is at least a 10-year problem. Funding requests should be calibrated to long-term, step-by-step study and analysis. Don’t expect a silver bullet.

Karen Steidinger/Jan Landsberg:

  • The distribution of the organism throughout the system (horizontal, vertical and benthic distribution) must be better understood.
  • Dispersal and meteorological influences should be studied.
  • In monitoring programs, map and identify the resting stages of P. parvum. Can we identify populations that are on the bottom?
  • Hand-held species identification kits are really needed. We need to establish priorities for the capabilities and performance standards for them.

Richard Kiesling:

  • SWAT teams need to be organized to follow the entire life cycle from bloom to resolution. They can implement several objectives real time.
  • Having a pre-defined action plan requires a major commitment of time and resources. This is difficult but can be potentially very beneficial.

Bente Edvardsen (Post Conference Suggestions):

Recommendations for future work and measures:

  • Collect all monitoring data that have obtained through the years. Make a database for the data and a comprehensive report.
  • Publish paper(s) in international journals on blooms and environmental conditions during the bloom (including algal concentrations, chemical and physical conditions, fish kills).
  • Plan a thorough monitoring program for affected lakes, reservoirs, and rivers as well as non-affected adjacent lakes for comparison. The parameters that should be considered to be measured are:
    • Physical parameters (measurement in each meter): water temperature, conductivity, salinity/chlorine concentrations, oxygen, and irradiance in water and at surface
    • Chemical parameters: pH, dissolved reactive nitrogen/phosphorus/silicate, particulate nitrogen and phosphorus, total nitrogen and phosphorus, total organic carbon, chlorophyll a, calcium ions, and magnesium ions
    • Biological parameters: concentration of P. parvum, total phytoplankton counts, and bio-volume.
  • Design a sampling program with different stations and depths. Sampling should be done all year (around every 14-30 days or more often during a bloom event).
  • Get funding for monitoring. Possible sources include the following:
    • National funding for research (ex: National Science Foundation)
    • State funding for research and training
    • State and county funding for monitoring
    • Private companies such as hydroelectric power plant companies in affected areas
    • Hatcheries and fisheries companies for monitoring
    • Water works (drinking water) for monitoring of water quality (Regulation of rivers in reservoirs and increased tapping of ground water are probable causes for increased salinity in the water, and if so, are partly responsible for the blooms of P. parvum.)
  • Start training staff in limnological and phycological methods (sampling, field measurements, microscopy, chemical analyses, etc.). Alternatively, hire people with expertise in limnology or hydrology.
  • Start monitoring.
  • Use the results from monitoring to establish an early warning system to inform the public through a web page, reports, and a telephone service (automatic information for different areas).
  • Use results in research to improve the understanding of the environmental conditions for bloom formation, toxin production, and fish kills (e.g. the nutrient concentrations causing blooms), as well as the P. parvum concentrations causing fish kills.
  • Consider appropriate measures to reduce problems in the future. If salinity is important, can it (e.g. in some fish ponds) be reduced? If nutrient concentrations are exceptionally high, consider replacing private leaking septic tanks with waste water treatment plants. If flow in reservoirs is important, consider changing the water flow regime.
  • Consider more direct measures such as additions of barley, Christmas-trees, clay, or fertilizers to fish ponds. These measures should not be considered for reservoirs or lakes though, since the cure could be worse than the cause.
  • Scientists and Texas Park and Wildlife Department staff should aim to establish collaborative research.

Gaps in knowledge (Examples of future research topics):

  • Genetics and phylogeny: Is P. parvum in Texas native or has it been introduced? Does P. parvum in Texas represent one homogenous population or several populations?
  • Life cycle: Are benthic cysts important for bloom formation? Under which conditions are cysts formed, and under which conditions do they hatch? Does sexual reproduction occur in these systems, and what is the significance of this in the life cycle of P. parvum?
  • Autecology: Which conditions are optimal for growth? What are the conditions where P. parvum cannot grow?
  • Nutrition: What are the nutrient requirements for toxic P. parvum blooms? What is the limiting nutrient for growth of P. parvum? Can the biomass of P. parvum be reduced by lowering the nutrient levels in reservoirs?
  • Toxic activity: Which environmental conditions promote toxin production or activate the toxin(s) and which reduce toxin production or activation?
  • Toxins: Which of the toxins is responsible for the each of the different effects observed? How can the toxins be detected and quantified in an effective way?
  • Effects on natural systems and other organisms in the system: What are the effects of P. parvum blooms on the ecosystem? What effect does high fish biomass have on the formation of toxic P. parvum blooms?

Additional Panel Questions and Discussion (Grouped by topic):

Additional Data Needs and Suggestions:
What future data collections (presently planned or new) would help fill in information gaps?
Both a remote sensing approach and a hand-held diagnostic unit could help follow populations of P. parvum.

  • Can we identify the forms of data that are routinely collected by managers? Make this a 2-way dialog with researchers.
  • Edvardsen: Continue a thorough monitoring program for bloom formation and toxic production. More insight on the chemistry, physics, and phytoplankton production will shed light on the causes and effects of blooms. This understanding will enable us to better warn the public when blooms may be imminent and confirm when it is safe to fish and eat fish.
  • Monitoring will help to understand what is happening with the dynamics. In-depth and closer sampling of bloom characteristics is needed to determine potential cause and effect relationships. Ultimately, this should lead us to predictive strategies. A comprehensive database will be needed for effective partnerships.
  • Understanding the spatial and temporal context for P. parvum blooms is crucial. We must have a better understanding if this a new organism or an existing one. Long-term longitudinal sampling is recommended.
  • A more systematic approach to the study of blooms would be useful.
  • Investigate the effect of residence time in situations where water flow rates can be altered.
  • The Chinese are examining shrimp culture ponds. Growers there use very shallow areas that are drained semi-annually. This may represent a situation for expanding our knowledge and understanding.
  • Graneli: Adding the missing nutrient may reduce toxicity.
  • Some phytoplankton experts have been slow to embrace the idea and explore evidence that chemical signaling may trigger some response in density.

In terms of modeling, do you mean statistical or numerical modeling?
Anderson: Numerical modeling coupled with physical and biological models will offer the greatest insight. Modeling can help identify the minimum set of parameters necessary.

Audience Comment: Modeling an autotrope is tough. A mixotrope is much more difficult, several magnitudes of difficulty higher.

What about impacts to other species? Will we potentially observe impacts on a broader range of endangered and other species?
We have some figures on recreational fishing, but P. parvum is nonspecific in impact.
There are probably impacts we are not detecting or monitoring.

What are your recommendations for immediate control of the status quo?
Massive fish kills excite the general public. We need recommendations and guidance for addressing current problems.
Research and monitoring are expensive; strategies will need to be developed. We will explore the Florida example on Saturday.

Clay Flocculation
Are there clay flocculation studies on small water bodies with low flow?
Anderson: In Korea, this material was carried off. In contained systems, it may accumulate. The keys are using the correct proportions of flocculent and applying it properly. The amounts required should be relatively small, and application should not have to be done often.

Flocculation may cause an accumulation of algae if it doesn’t kill it. Is this a problem?
Anderson: If the clay amount is correct, the algae will be killed. Selecting the correct clay and/or other material helps.

Why not begin with sediment cores from the oldest known bloom sites and examine cysts from these cores?
We do not know what the cysts look like; they are difficult to identify at sites. This appears to be a good idea on the surface, and it might work if the sample is anoxic.

How can we adapt methodology such as ultrasound for examining living cysts in natural sediments?
This is really tough because they are small, and we do not know what other problems, if any, ultrasound will cause. Cysts are tough to form in the lab for a variety of reasons.

Efforts in Norway
Is Norway analogous to Korea in terms of effects on long-term aquaculture? Is Norway examining control measures for P. parvum?
Edvardsen: Blooms occurred between 1989 and 1995. During this time, fish cages were moved to areas of greater salinity to preserve them. These efforts were largely successful. What was learned in the fiord systems was that hydropower plants only released water briefly in the summer time. P. parvum grew during these periods, and greater water releases flushed the organisms out of the system. Water residence time in the system was found to be an important variable.

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