Date of Award

Fall 10-12-2021




Master of Science

Degree Type

Master of Biology



First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Burgess

Second Advisor

Dr. Clifton Ruehl


Aquatic plants play vital roles in water systems by providing ecological services, and one group that is understudied is algae. Algae play a crucial role in water systems as bioindicators and primary producers. They can be challenging to identify with the naked eye, so researchers have been using DNA metabarcoding, where DNA belonging to specific taxa can be isolated and identified from water samples.

The objective of this study was to conduct an algal biodiversity survey on the middle Chattahoochee River system in Georgia. Water samples (1L) were filtered and sent to RTL Genomics for sequencing and processing; the data was then analyzed through PAST software to create diversity indices. Overall, time of sampling, lake population, and the interaction between the two showed significance for the following variables: number of individuals, number of taxa, Simpson diversity index, dominance, Shannon diversity index, and evenness. Future recommendations include increasing the number and type of sampling locations and the inclusion of samples collected throughout the year.

The preliminary assessment of algae diversity presented here will provide future guidance for water quality management and biodiversity conservation along the middle Chattahoochee River.