Klamath Lake (Oregon) ecology

William Tivol tivol at news.wadsworth.org
Thu Dec 28 18:28:20 EST 1995


A. Pasmur (ajp3 at acpub.duke.edu) wrote:

: I wonder: around Klamath Lake in Oregon, several companies make 
: tremendous profits (in the hundreds of millions) by harvesting and 
: marketing a super blue-green algae (I forget the scientific name).
: The companies claim to be environmentally sound and even beneficial, 
: But how can this be so?

	It is possible that the algae can reproduce faster than the com-
panies can extract it, and that the limits to algal growth prevent growth
in an unharvested lake, but are removed in the process of harvesting.  This
would allow the algae to resume reproducing after harvesting, and the effect
on the rest of the ecosystem could be negligable.  Possible mechanisms to
limit algal growth could be:  1) access to sunlight, 2) a limiting element,
such as phosphorous, 3) dissolved oxygen or nitrogen from the atmosphere.
With a little thought, one can see how harvesting frees up surface area,
which can provide more access to sunlight and more limiting nutrient per
unit algae.  Whether this actually occurs in Klamath Lake may be open for
debate, but it is possible that the companies' statements are true.
				Yours,
				Bill Tivol




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