Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Geography and Geosciences

Degree Program

Geography (Applied), MS

Committee Chair

Day, Andrew

Committee Member

Stevens, Forrest

Committee Member

Sluss, Tamra

Author's Keywords

harmful algal blooms; Lake Erie; Great Lakes


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been a recurring issue in the Western Lake Erie Basin for more than a decade, despite policies implemented to improve the water quality of the Great Lakes. HABs describe algae that can be harmful to both ecosystem function and human health. The Western Lake Erie Basin, in particular, experiences Microcystis aeruginosa blooms in the summer months due to a multitude of factors leading to increased phosphorus and nitrogen loads in the contributing watersheds. In this study, lake water surface temperature, land cover, river discharge, and precipitation were examined as potential triggers for the occurrence and areal extent of HABs in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Results suggest that the percentage of developed land and to a weaker extent, HAB season (June-October) runoff coefficient, may affect the occurrence and extent of HABs in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Cultivated land proportion had the highest predictive power on HAB occurrence and extent, although it was negatively related to the occurrence and extent of HABs, which was unanticipated due to the excess of nutrients often present in cultivated land.