Department of Marine and Environmental Systems’ Kevin Johnson received $250,000 from the St. Johns River Water Management District to track the factors affecting the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) superbloom in the northern lagoon.
“Algae should be eaten by herbivores, but IRL algae have been blooming out of control in spite of grazers,” said Johnson. “My research will focus on the distribution and abundance of herbivores in the field and on lab tests to examine the diets and feeding rates of grazers, including their potential to consume nuisance algae.”
Harmful algal blooms in the IRL are becoming common with the recent “brown tide” resulting primarily from a species of algae known as Aureoumbra lagunensis. These blooms are largely to blame for the recent dramatic loss of sea grass habitat, dietary problems in manatees and other issues in the IRL.