Composition and abundance of phytoplankton in tributaries of the lower Colorado river, Grand Canyon region

Wayne M. Crayton, Milton R. Sommerfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Phytoplankton distribution and abundance in eleven tributaries of the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon were investigated from April, 1975 to June, 1976. During this period a total of 56 genera and 156 species of phytoplankton was identified. Phytoplankton species of the individual tributaries were quite distinct, with only four diatom species, Diatoma vulgare, Navicula tripunctata, Nitzschia linearis and Synedra ulna, common to all the tributaries. Bright Angel Creek, Shinumo Creek and Elves Chasm were the tributaries with the most diverse algal flora, whereas Vaseys Paradise, Tapeats Creek, Deer Creek and Havasu Creek showed the lowest species richness. Elves Chasm and Diamond Creek had the highest phytoplankton numbers. Phytoplankton abundance and species richness appeared to be influenced by high turbidity, current velocity, fluctuating water levels and age of the water. Some of the dominant algal species, Biddulphia laevis, Cocconeis pediculus, Cymbella ventricosa, Epithemia sorex, Gomphonema parvulum and Synedra ulna, showed significant correlations with specific physico-chemical characteristics of the tributaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-93
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 1979


  • Colorado River
  • Grand Canyon
  • algae
  • phytoplankton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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