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American team of scientists help protect Guatemala's Lake Atitlan
Date:6/22/2010

h the lake's thermal layers mixing the warm surface and cold deep waters.

"Lake Atitlan is very similar to Lake Tahoe, on the border of Nevada and California, in size and character, but without the environmental protections, Atitlan declined in water quality over the years from the impacts of increased population," Chandra said. "The algae made a spectacular explosion of color on the surface of the 50-square-mile lake, as seen from space in satellite photos, drawing attention to its dramatic decline."

"Our collaboration can help move the management forward by decades by adding to their work the lessons learned at Tahoe since water quality management of Tahoe began 40 years ago," Chandra said. "Atitlan is at a crossroads for management, and it needs it sooner rather than later."

The American team of fisheries ecologists, limnologists, water quality experts and wetlands scientists teamed with about 20 scientists, engineers and students from Guatemala to set up a lab and monitoring infrastructure for the lake, to build on the research that began and has continued intermittently since the 1970s.

"The trip was quite successful," Alan Heyvaert, scientist from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Nevada said. "Lots of data and samples were collected and we've begun a promising collaboration with the researchers there. They are very knowledgeable and together we can interpret the data and study both natural and human-caused events to flesh out the causes of the algae blooms."

Heyvaert brought sampling equipment from Lake Tahoe to Guatemala and took sediment core samples from the lake bottom, as deep as 1,000 feet from the surface.

"The sediment record will help us get a historical perspective on events, such as the 2005 hurricane, to analyze the impacts on the lake," he said.

The U.C. Davis members of the team, lead by Rejmankova, conducted near-shore sampling of invertebrates, algae, water, sediments, and pl
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Contact: Mike Wolterbeek
mwolterbeek@unr.edu
University of Nevada, Reno
Source:Eurekalert  

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