We may learn a lot about how living creatures are affected in thermally
polluted water by observing this naturally altered stream. In cases of
thermal pollution, algae and other aquatic plants grow more rapidly—a
factor which may upset the entire food chain! Greater plant density
causes a reduction in the intensity of light in the stream. Less light
which leads to a higher rate of plant respiration, depleting the water’s
oxygen supply. Most aquatic plants and animals need oxygen to survive
and will drown if there isn’t sufficient oxygen in the water.
Did you notice any differences in the microorganisms in the heated versus
the unheated sections of the Firehole River?