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Productivity and carbon accumulation potential of transferred biofilms in reclaimed oil sands-affected wetlands

Frederick, K.. 2011. M.Sc. Thesis. Dept. of Renewable Resources. University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB


Biofilms are significant contributors to primary production, nutrient cycling, bio-stabilization and the food web of wetland ecosystems. Photoautotrophic biomass (PB) and primary production (PP) were determined for biofilms exposed to various treatments and materials in wetlands near Fort McMurray. Biofilm additions and oil sands process-affected materials were expected to increase the microbial colonization rates on treated substrates and subsequently PB and PP of biofilms over time as compared to controls and unaffected materials. Biofilms survived the transfers and colonized new substrates immediately. Oil sands process affected materials were found to increase PB and PP throughout the first year. A strong decreasing trend for both PB and PP in treatment microcosms occurred in year two, eventually coalescing with control conditions at a lower equilibrium. Transferred biofilms and treatment materials, therefore, increased overall wetland productivity during the initial stages of wetland development when growing conditions are most limiting.