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Volume 60—1980

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Lois A. Pfiester, Robert Lynch and Terry L. Wright*

Department of Botany-Microbiology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019

*Present address: Ecology Consultants, Inc., 1716 Heath Parkway, Fort Collins, Colorado

A total of 245 phytoplankton taxa were collected with a plankton net from the Grand River, Chouteau Creek, Pryor Creek, and ponds located on GRDA property in Mayes County, Oklahoma, from February 1977 to August, 1977. Several of these taxa represent new state records. On the basis of species diversity Chouteau Creek, Pryor Creek and the Grand River are said to be lightly to moderately polluted.


Considerable taxonomic work has been completed on the algal flora of Oklahoma including that of Gabel (1), Taft (2-9), Transeau et al. (10), Leake (11-13), Booth (14, 15), Maloney (16), Jenkins (17), Ophel (18-20), Vinyard (21-22), Cooper (23), Schlicting and Gearhart (24), Bermudez (25), Koch and Risser (26), Pfiester (27, 28), Pfiester and Felkner (29), Pfiester and Terry (30), Pfiester et al. (31), Wright (32, 33), Taylor (34), Wilhm et al. (35, 36), Seyfer and Wilhm (37), and Troeger (38, 39). The purpose of this paper is to report on changes in phytoplankton assemblage from February, 1977 to August, 1977 in Chouteau Creek, Pryor Creek, Grand River, and three ponds located on the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) property in Mayes County, Oklahoma.


Study Area

Seven sampling stations were studied monthly (Fig. 1). Three were located on the Grand River. Station G-1 was at the present intake for the GRDA Generating Station, G-2 below the inflow of Pryor Creek where Highway 33 crosses the Grand River, and G-3 below the inflow of Chouteau Creek. Stations C-2 and C-3 were located on Chouteau Creek, C-2 near Highway 33 above where it converges with Grand River. Station P-1 was located on Pryor Creek north of where it joins Grand River and P-2 on Pryor Creek where it converges with Grand River. Three ponds located on GRDA property near the Highway 33 Bridge were sampled once in May.


Three samples were collected at each station by towing a No. 20 plankton net through 38.97 l of water on each sampling date. The plankton was concentrated into a 25-ml container. Samples were stored in an ice chest and 25 ml Transeau's solution (6 parts water, 3 parts ethanol, 1 part formalin) added upon return to the laboratory. These samples were used for identification of the algae exclusive of diatoms.

Identification and Diversity

Species identification of phytoplankton (exclusive of diatoms) was made by plac-

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ing a drop on a glass slide which was then examined with an oil immersion lens. After species identification was accomplished at this magnification, a Sedwick-Rafter counting chamber was filled with 1 ml of the sample and organisms in the entire field counted at 10 × magnification.

Samples used for diatom identification and counts were cleaned by adding potassium dichromate and concentrated H2O2 to each sample. The contents were concentrated to 50 ml and permanent slides were prepared by adding a 1-ml aliquot to a cover slip which was dried and mounted permanently with Hyrax onto a slide. All algal samples are in the University of Oklahoma Bebb Herbarium.

Species diversity (d) was determined by using the formula of Shannon and Weaver (40).


Two hundred and forty-five taxa of phytoplankters were collected from the Grand River Dam Study Area (Table 1). Of this number 136 were diatoms (Bacillariophy-

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{Page 65 consists entirely of Table 1.}

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ta), 62 green algae (Chlorophyta), 23 bluegreens (Cyanophyta), 19 euglenophytans, 3 pyrrhophytans, 1 chrysophytan, and 1 unidentified red alga. Several of these represent new state records.

Species diversity in the Grand River ranged from 0.49 at Station G-1 in March to 3.44 in August (Table 2). Number of taxa present at any one sampling time ranged from 5 at G-3 in May to 27 at G-2 in June. The diatoms Melosira granulata and Cymbella minuta were the most abundant algae in the Grand River during this study. Other important algae include Ankistrodesmus falcatus, Oocystis pusilla, and Gymnodium sp.

Species diversity in Chouteau Creek ranged from 1.56 in March at Station C-3 to 3.82 in May at the same station. The lowest number of taxa present at any one sampling time was in March at C-3 and the highest was 45 at the same station in June. Melosira granulata and Chlamydomonas Snowii were the most abundant algae at Chouteau Creek. Cymbella minuta, Crucigenia truncata, and Trachelomonas volvocina were also common.

Species diversity ranged from 0.30 at station P-1 in February in Pryor Creek to 3.40 at the same station in March. The number of taxa present varied from four in August at P-2 to 41 in June at P-1. Euglena gracilis was the most abundant alga observed in Pryer Creek with Melosira granulata the second most abundant. Other common algae were Trachelomonas volvocina, Ankistrodesmus falcatus, and Scenedesmus quadricauda.

Species diversity in the ponds ranged from 2.52 in Pond 3 to 4.10 in Pond 2. Taxa present varied from 42 in Pond 1 to 53 in Pond 3. All three ponds had large numbers of desmids such as Desmidium Baileyi, Cosmarium sp., Arthrodesmus convergens, and Pleurotaenium Trabecula as well as filamentous members of the Zygnematales such as Mougeotia and Spirogyra.


The Grand River is typical of larger rivers in that the plankton was composed mainly of diatoms. Diatoms were also the dominant planktonic algae in Pryor and Chouteau creeks with the exception of Station P-1 in February.

Planktonic diatoms found in this study include the genera Melosira, Asterionella, Fragilaria, Cyclotella, and Stephanodiscus (41). Benthic diatoms found include the genera Synedra, Nitzschia, Navicula, Diatoma, and Surirella. As the water became warmer Chlorophycean phytoplankters such as Scenedesmus, Ankistrodesmus, and Dictyosphaerium became common. Numbers of benthic algae in the open water generally

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vary with the composition of the stream bed. As populations attached to the substrate mature, layers become unstable, are detached, and float away. Shallower streams tend to have larger numbers of benthic algae. This is true of Chouteau and Pryor creeks.

Species diversity values in the Grand River ranged from 0.49 to 3.44. Using the categories of Staub (42) the Grand River would range from slightly to heavily polluted at all three stations. The present intake appears to have a decided effect on the phytoplankton population. This probably occurs in several ways: 1) large numbers of plankters are removed from the open water through the intake, 2) decay of fish and other animals trapped by the intake and low water dam contribute to organic pollution and thus abundance of pollution-tolerant algal genera to the exclusion of less tolerant taxa, and 3) frequent and severe fluctuations in water level affect the number and kinds of organisms capable of thriving. Station G-2 is most likely affected by organic pollutants coming from Pryor Creek, an industrialized stream.

The greatest variety of phytoplankton taxa occurred in Chouteau Creek in February, while the lowest occurred in March. As in the Grand River, diatom taxa are common in Chouteau Creek. According to Staub's (42) classification system, species diversity values for Chouteau Creek indicate that it is only moderately to lightly polluted. The lowest value for species diversity in Pryor Creek occurred in February at P-1 (0.30). The potential for such a low species diversity indicates substantial pollution. The presence of cattle at Station P-1 and industrial wastes add considerable organic nitrogen to the water and contribute to heavy pollution found there in some months, which increases the pollution found at Station P-2.

The algae found in the three ponds are those typically found in quiet, acid environments.


Two hundred and forty-five taxa of phytoplankters were collected from the Grand River Dam Study area. Of this number 136 were diatoms, 62 green algae, 23 bluegreens, 19 euglenophytans, 3 pyrrhophytans, 1 chrysophytan, and 1 unidentified red alga. The sites on the GRDA Study Site indicate some potential problem areas such as in P-1. In general, however, the study indicates that Chouteau Creek, Pryor Creek, and the Grand River are lightly to moderately polluted.


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