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A lot of the algae would begin to grow at a faster rate and increase rapidly!

Yes, although light is another factor in algal growth, we’re finding the effects of temperature may be even more important.

Oh, for goodness sake! Can’t we talk about something besides algae?

Certainly—let’s talk about bacteria instead! It appears bacteria also grow much faster in the heated portions of the river. That makes sense because more living algae also means that more algae die, which in turn increases the growth of decomposers, especially bacteria.

One of the threats of thermal pollution is that excessive decomposition lessens the available oxygen in the water. Less oxygen leads to the deaths of more plants and animals or their replacement with species more tolerant of these new conditions.

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Cast of characters - Maya Crowbes, Dr. A Beadle, Gray Fischer, Viola DeRama
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Q: Why do bacteria grow faster in the warmer parts of the Firehole River?

GLOSSARY: decomposer(s)—something that breaks down or decays something