Rotifers as Water Quality Indicators: Understanding the Relationship Between Water Quality and Rotifer Species Diversity


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Lilvia J Bradbury
Committee: Paul Bartels, Mark Brenner, JJ Apodaca

This study is the first record of genera-level identifications of freshwater, monogononta rotifers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). It is also the first study that attempts to examine the effects of Anakeesta rock contamination on rotifer communities. 32 aquatic moss samples and 10 water samples were collected at upstream and downstream locations at Beech Flats Prong, North Carolina. Water quality measurements of dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and alkalinity were measured for the water samples. Water quality tests showed no differences between upstream and downstream samples. However, by water quality tests being conducted on a single day, these test results may not show the true water quality of the stream. Because of this, meiofaunal community analyses were conducted without using water quality as a variable. All 32 moss samples contained rotifers, nematodes, tardigrades, midges, and other meiofaunal animals. Statistical comparisons of abundance and diversity of rotifers, nematodes, tardigrades, midges, and other animals made beween upstream and downstream samples using unpaired t-tests. Identification of rotifers to genera level was made and their occurrences between upstream and downstream locations were compared. Four rotifer genera were identified from the upstream and downstream samples. Meiofaunal community analysis of species diversity and abundance indicated that there were no statistically significant differences between upstream and downstream locations. This study provides base line data and information for future identification of rotifer species in the GSMNP and other studies on rotifers. Additionally, identification of rotifers in this study are expected to be added to the All Taxa Biodiversity Index (ATBI) records.