linking microbial diversity and activity to water quality
The health of an ecosystem is intertwined with its water quality and microbial community. Dr. Alysia Cox is researching the link between water quality and microbial activity and diversity within the headwaters of the Clark Fork, a river that has been heavily affected by past mining activity. Determining microbial diversity and activity in the headwaters will provide both an indication of metal contamination from past mining on the overall health of the system and will serve as a baseline for evaluating the effects of future climate change on microbial and chemical processes in this ecosystem. Microbial diversity and activity will be linked to water chemistry, providing information on how microbial activity relates to water quality. These data are expected to contribute to water quality and remediation solutions in Montana now and in the future. Furthermore, the results will help to understand similarly impacted ecosystems within the state.
Dr. Cox is head of the Environmental Dynamics in Geobiochemical Engineering (EDGE) Laboratory and Assistant Professor of Environmental Chemistry in the Chemistry and Geochemistry Department at Montana Tech. She will be conducting this research with the help of Joe Griffin, local expert and contaminant hydrogeologist, and EDGE lab students.