North-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (2-3 May 2013)

Paper No. 18
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


RICHARDSON-COY, Robin, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wright State University, 260 Brehm Labs, 3640 Colonel Glenn Highway, Dayton, OH 45435-0001 and TEED, Rebecca, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wright State University, 260 Brehm Labs, 3640 Colonel Glenn Highway, Dayton, OH 45435,

Diatoms are a class of phytoplankton with wide species diversity. These microscopic organisms play a significant role in aquatic ecosystems both chemically and biologically. They are an important component of aquatic food chains. Each species of diatom has a specific range of water chemistry conditions in which its populations will thrive. Diatoms are identified most commonly by their siliceous cell walls, which vary between species. The siliceous cell walls of diatoms also allow them to be preserved as fossils in sediments. It is possible to make inferences about historical water chemistry based on the species of diatoms preserved in sediment. Past water chemistry changes for a specific ecosystem can aid understanding of both natural and anthropogenic impacts as well as possible future problems such as eutrophication or ecosystem degradation.

The Glen Helen Nature Preserve is a 1000-acre preserve under management of the Glen Helen Ecology Institute through Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The Glen is a valuable resource for both teaching and research from the university to the elementary school level. It is a recreational area with scenic trails, diverse flora/fauna, and two streams (Birch and Yellow Springs Creek). This education center is used for hands-on learning for environmental topics such as geology, ecology, biology, and resource conservation. With such a wide variety of educational opportunities, this ecosystem brings together students and researchers from many branches of science.

This study was conducted as a service learning project to collect diatom samples from Glen Helen, to relate the diatom species to water chemistry data, and to provide teaching materials for the numerous education activities taking place in Glen Helen. Permanent slides will be made from samples collected from water, macrophytes, and sediments. Diatoms will be identified, sketched, and photographed to develop a teaching set of diatom identification for the Glen Helen area that will be published as a handbook for use in the Glen Helen educational activities. The diatoms will provide an additional layer of data to complement the ongoing water chemistry study being conducted by Wright State University and Antioch College students.