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The Stream Biofilm project

The stream biofilm project is carried out by a team of researchers based at the University of Auckland (New Zealand).

The role of biofilms in stream ecology has received little attention at the microbial level and the dynamics of the biofilm populations and interactions with larger organisms is only patchily described. However it has recently become clear that stream biofilms form a critical component in stream food webs. Components of the biofilm recycle organic matter; fix carbon, nitrogen and energy, and transform and cycle nutrients such as phosphates, and sulphur. A range of micro- and macrobenthic invertebrates feed on the biofilm material and derive significant nutrition from the microbial biomass. The nature of the biofilm and the relative composition in terms of microbial species may potentially affect the quality of a biofilm as a food source for grazing organisms affecting the diversity, abundance and distribution of macrobenthic invertebrates.

This research project aims to determine the factors driving biofilm function, and the influence of these on the stream food webs. We also aim to determine the critical factors for ensuring the establishment and maintenance of biofilms, and their contribution to environmental services in stream systems.

The project has 4 objectives:

  • Investigation of the effects of stream environment and water quality on biofilm composition.

  • Investigation of trophic interactions between biofilms and other stream biota.

  • Development of methods for biofilm manipulation to support effective stream restoration and management.

  • Development of an index based on bacterial community composition that can be used in assessment of stream health.

The work will culminate in a series of recommendations for stream restoration and management strategies that will optimise biofilm function as the biological foundation of stream health.

The research is based at the University of Auckland and is a collaborative effort between microbiologists Associate Professor Gillian Lewis (University of Auckland), Dr Susan Turner (University of Auckland), and Dr Gavin Lear (Lincoln University), with support from macrobenthic invertebrate specialist Dr Ian Boothroyd (Golder Associates) and protozoan specialist Dr Rebecca Stott (NIWA).

 

 

 

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Stream Biofilm Research Group
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Auckland
3a Symonds Street
Auckland, New Zealand
-----
streambiofilmgmail.com

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© Stream Biofilm Project, The University of Auckland 2008-2010
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