Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Lesley P. Bulluck

Second Advisor

Paul A. Bukaveckas

Third Advisor

James R. Vonesh

Fourth Advisor

Salvatore J. Agosta


Algal blooms are directly related to human-caused nutrient enrichment of water bodies. The cyanobacteria Microcystis aeruginosa produces microcystin (MC), a toxin that has been linked with mortalities and illness of many organisms. We show that MC is not constrained by the aquatic-terrestrial ecotone. MC was detected in a primary consumer and emerging aquatic invertebrate (Hexagenia Mayfly), a terrestrial insect and predator of emerging aquatic invertebrates (Tetragnathidae Spider), and a vertebrate consumer (Prothonotary Warbler). Mayfly and spider MC levels varied across the blooming period. MC levels in prothonotary warbler livers varied by age class; nestlings having the highest levels. MC levels decreased in fledglings over time. A more aquatic diet was related to higher MC levels in nestlings at one site and nestling fecal-sacs varied spatially, also indicating that aquatic diet is related to MC consumption. Warbler body condition and growth rate was not related to liver microcystin levels.


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