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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 decreases photosynthesis, 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?

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Cast of characters - Maya Crowbes, Dr. A Beadle, Gray Fischer, Viola DeRama
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Q: How can a rapid growth of algae disrupt the food chain?