Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2017

Document Access

Restricted Project/Capstone - USF access only

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Dr. Amalia Kokkinaki


Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHAB’s) are a global concern that affect humans and wildlife. Microcystis aeruginosa (Microcystis) is a freshwater photosynthetic cyanobacterium that is planktonic during warm months but has an overwintering benthic phase. Microcystis create toxins, including microcystins that can lead to liver damage and cancer in aquatic life, livestock and humans. Microcystins can be stored intracellularly or released into the water column in a dissolved form. Most studies focus on Microcystis in its planktonic state, but not on transport of microcystins. More recently, microcystins have become a threat to coastal systems that are linked to freshwater inputs. The goal of this paper is to determine pathways of transport of Microcystis and microcystins in estuary systems. This paper synthesizes literature on environmental factors that increase Microcystis blooms and how their microcystins accumulate in sediments and bivalves. The interaction between the water column and sediments is an important role for predicting future Microcystis blooms. Bivalves are known to be bioindicators of contaminants, since they are sessile organisms that are filter feeders and deposit feed from sediment bottoms. To current knowledge, there is no mandated CHAB monitoring in California, which is important to predict or mitigate future blooms. The results of this paper indicate remote sensing, water quality monitoring, and sediment monitoring are useful strategies to not only predict but mitigate blooms. Freshwater and marine bivalves should also be monitored since they are bioindicators of potential impacts to ecological health. By incorporating multiple monitoring components, the data can be integrated into models to not only predict future CHAB’s but also determine the drivers of blooms.

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