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Heather Toews | MSc Candidate

Phytoplankton ecology of the Queen Charlottle Islands (Haida Gwaii), British Columbia

I am a MSc candidate in the Botany department and my research focuses on the area of the Queen Charlotte Islands in which major algal blooms have previously been observed. These blooms occur in July or August and have been observed in the years 1992-1999, with the exception of 1994, using satellite imagery. Satellite sensors can detect the presence and extent of a bloom, as well as measuring a rough estimate of productivity, but there is no indication of what species are present in such a bloom. Also, chlorophyll estimates may be unreliable due to the presence of dissolved organics or increased reflectance due to detached coccoliths in the water.

My project consists of field studies in the area of Gwaii Haanas National Marine Park Reserve that are planned for the summers of 2001 and 2002. These will focus on determining the phytoplankton species responsible for bloom formation, as well as physical and chemical parameters in the water column that promote the formation of major blooms such as nutrients, salinities, and temperatures. I will also measure other properties that will help to determine the quality of productivity estimates from satellite images, such as chlorophyll concentrations, total suspended sediments, and chromophoric dissolved organic matter.