Dr. Loren Bahls is the curator of the Montana Diatom Collection, an important bank of 14,000 slides that represent 5,000 localities in the Northwestern United States. This collection is about to get much bigger. Over the past few months Dr. Bahls has teamed up with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and their army of citizens scientists to collect a record number of samples from alpine lakes throughout the North West. Dr. Bahls has just begun to sort through all the samples with some pretty exciting results. Here are a few excerpts some of the first few emails to our scientist. Stay tuned for more! Check out the Diatom Project here.
I have processed your first 10 samples and they are already proving to be useful. In the "frog pond" above Dewey Lake I found Cymbella rainierensis, a diatom endemic to the Pacific Northwest. This species was described in 1963 from a population in Mowich Lake in Mount Rainier National Park. In the frog pond I also found the first U.S. record for Cymbopleura sublanceolata. These are both rare and little known species. I will be using your specimens and your photo of the frog pond when I post these species to the Diatoms of the United States website. You will be credited with the photo and your affiliation will be given as Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. I expect there will be more exciting finds when I examine your samples more thoroughly this winter.
Here's a brief update on your samples from the Wind Rivers: I assigned sample numbers and entered metadata into my database. Then I acidified the samples to remove organic matter, mounted the cleaned diatoms on slides, and deposited the slides in the Herbarium. All of your samples contained good numbers of diatoms, even the "Barren Tarn". In scanning the slides, I found the diatoms in "High Lake" to be very interesting. I'm attaching photos of some of these below. This sample contains 3 species (Navicula ludloviana, Navicula sovereignii, and Gomphoneis linearis) that are extremely rare and endemic to the Pacific Northwest, mainly Oregon and Washington. Your specimens are the first records from the Rocky Mountains. The condition of diatoms in the sample (several broken valves) suggests that you may have sampled a fossil deposit (diatomite). I will need to research the geology of the Wind Rivers to see if there are known diatomite deposits there.
I'll give your samples a more thorough analysis this winter. Thanks again for your contributions.
Here's a brief update on your samples from the Cascades: I assigned sample numbers and entered metadata into my database. Then I acidified the samples to remove organic matter, mounted the cleaned diatoms on slides, and deposited the slides in the Herbarium. All of your samples contained good numbers of diatoms.
I'm attaching photos of some diatoms from your Surprise Lake #1 sample. All of the scale bars are 10 microns. Your samples contain some interesting and potentially new-to-science species. At least one of the diatoms from Surprise Lake--Cymbella rainierensis--is endemic to the Pacific Northwest. As you might guess from its name, it was described from a collection taken near Mount Rainier, actually Mowich Lake in Mount Rainier National Park (in 1963).
I kept your two Surprise Lake samples separate because they were collected at different locations on the lake. In scanning the slides, I noticed that they contain quite different diatom associations. Do you recall if you sampled different substrates at Surprise Lake #1 and #2?
I will give your samples a thorough analysis this winter. Thanks again for your contributions.
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