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article imageThe rise of 'rock snot', a mysterious algae

By Tim Sandle     May 10, 2014 in Science
Dartmouth - An increasingly common algal growth dubbed 'rock snot', found in rivers the world over, is caused by changing environmental conditions.
The algae, Didymosphenia geminata, or “didymo” for short, has been cropping up in rivers in New Zealand, South America, Canada, and the United States in recent decades. Dubbed “rock snot”, the freshwater algae species can carpet riverbeds with globular mats and cause ecological problems. For example, didymo is a threat to salmon and trout in the rivers where it proliferates. Moreover, the algae can potentially bloom in thick clumps and blanket the bottoms of streams completely. This threatens the ability of other stream species to survive because it smothers all possible food sources for them.
The algae is becoming more common around the globe because environmental conditions are favoring its growth. This is the view of Dartmouth College ecologist Brad Taylor and Max Bothwell of Environment Canada, who have suggested that didymo is native to many rivers and it is blooming because of changes in environmental conditions, such as the climate change-related nutrient paucity and decreased ice cover.
The Canadian researchers have published their theory in the journal BioScience. The paper is titled "The Origin of Invasive Microorganisms Matters for Science, Policy, and Management: The Case of Didymosphenia geminata".
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