Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.Sc.

Department

Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research

First Advisor

Daniel Heath

Second Advisor

Ken Drouillard

Rights

CC-BY-NC-ND

Abstract

Freshwater estuaries throughout the Great Lakes region receive nutrient loadings and trace metals from agricultural runoffs and urban centers. Such anthropogenic stressors have been previous demonstrated to affect the microbial community composition in polluted ecosystems. This thesis explores the microbial biogeography of 18 tributaries to understand the relationship between the microbial community structure and habitat profiles, and the impacts of these microbial communities on fish microbiomes. Partial Mantel test showed a significant correlation (R2 =0.16) between environment and bacterial community structure while controlling for spatial distance. Canonical correspondence analysis demonstrated distinct clusters corresponding with specific environmental drivers’ characteristic of specific tributary types. The gut microbiome of fish at these sites showed a significant correlation with environmental bacteria but not with other environmental parameters or spatial distance. This study supports the use of microbial communities as indicators of ecological change and demonstrates that these communities affect the microbiome of higher trophic organisms.

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