Capstone Title

Anthropogenic Drivers of Harmful Algal Blooms, Specifically Microcystin, From Fresh to Marine Environments

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Donald McCorquodale

Second Advisor

George Duncan


Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms and the environmentally persistent toxins they produce are a growing global concern. One such cyanotoxin, microcystin, is common in freshwater ecosystems but has been known to enter the marine environment. Poisonings and fatalities from microcystin are recorded for livestock, pets, aquatic organisms, marine mammals, and humans. Microcystin blooms may be comprised of both toxic and nontoxic strains. Precise drivers of blooms and toxicity are conflicting in the literature. Anthropogenically derived nutrients are considered to be a significant driver of blooms, and it is predicted that climate change will only stimulate conditions that favor bloom proliferation. There is limited monitoring, testing, and legislation in the United States for microcystin and other cyanotoxins. Additional research conducted will aid managers and policy makers to formulating the best approach for mitigating blooms and microcystin.

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