, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 355–361 | Cite as

Competitive exclusion of Cyanobacterial species in the Great Salt Lake

  • Hillary C. Roney
  • Gary M. Booth
  • Paul Alan CoxEmail author
Original Paper


The Great Salt Lake is separated into different salinity regimes by rail and vehicular causeways. Cyanobacterial distributions map salinity, with Aphanothece halophytica proliferating in the highly saline northern arm (27% saline), while Nodularia spumigena occurs in the less saline south (6–10%). We sought to test if cyanobacterial species abundant in the north are competitively excluded from the south, and if southern species are excluded by the high salinity of the north. Autoclaved samples from the north and south sides of each causeway were inoculated with water from each area. Aphanothece, Oscillatoria, Phormidium, and Nodularia were identified in the culture flasks using comparative differential interference contrast, fluorescence, and scanning electron microscopy. Aphanothece halophytica occurred in all inocula, but is suppressed in the presence of Nodularia spumigena. N. spumigena was found only in inocula from the less saline waters in the south, and apparently cannot survive the extremely hypersaline waters of the northern arm. These data suggest that both biotic and abiotic factors influence cyanobacterial distributions in the Great Salt Lake.


Competitive exclusion Halophilic bacteria Aphanothece Nodularia Oscillatoria Phormidium Gause’s principle 



We thank J. Metcalf for assistance in cyanobacterial identification, J. Gardner for assistance in scanning electron microscopy, and B. Schaalje for assistance with biostatistics. We are grateful to the Wood Family Foundation for the Mus Views DIC/Fluorescent Microscopy Facility at the Institute for Ethnomedicine, and A. Fransiscana and R. Smithson for inspiration in our studies of the Great Salt Lake.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hillary C. Roney
    • 1
  • Gary M. Booth
    • 2
  • Paul Alan Cox
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for EthnomedicineJackson HoleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plant and Wildlife ScienceBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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