Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Comparison of methods to assess water column primary production in wetlands


Brian C. Reeder

Document Type


Publication Date



We compared a number of techniques to measure water column autotroph production in a shallow, hypereutrophic wetland: diurnal oxygen changes; light and dark bottle incubations; chlorophyll a concentrations; daily changes in pH; and algal volume. Productivity from diurnal oxygen changes calculated at 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, and 4 h intervals give similar estimates, but not ∼12 h intervals (dawn-dusk-dawn). Net productivity in bottles was slightly lower than that indicated by diurnal oxygen changes, and gross productivity in bottles was much lower than diurnal changes. Changes in pH correlated well with gross and net productivity measurements, as well as algal volume. Chlorophyll a is correlated with diurnal and bottle net productivity measurements and pH changes, but not algal volume. Since daily pH flux and oxygen changes provide a better overall assessment of ecosystem processes than standing crop or bottle incubations, they could be useful measurements for ecological engineers interested in assessing the ecosystem function.