CIRES | Center for Limnology

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About Limnology

About Limnology

Mission of the Center

The mission of the Center for Limnology at CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder [ About CU ] , is to promote research and teaching related to inland aquatic ecosystems, including lakes, streams, and wetlands.

Goals of the Center

  1. To provide visibility and continuity and technical support for interdisciplinary studies involving inland aquatic ecosystems
  2. To maintain undergraduate training programs and individualized undergraduate instruction in the science of aquatic ecosystems
  3. To attract and use research funds for the collection and analysis of data on aquatic ecosystems
  4. To publish and disseminate research findings in the open literature and to participate at the national and international level in the study of important questions relating to aquatic ecosystems
  5. To help resolve important problems related to either the basic science or applied science of inland waters

Center Activities

The Center for Limnology has three types of programs, each of which has teaching and research components. The first of these is the study of inland waters at tropical latitudes. The Center is well known for researchpublication, and collaborative work in the study of tropical inland waters. Tropical inland waters are much less thoroughly known than waters of temperate latitudes. Studies of tropical waters are motivated in part by the great value of testing theories derived at temperate latitudes by making comparisons across latitudes where basic physical conditions are different. In addition, tropical latitudes offer the opportunity to study certain types of environments, such as floodplains, in pristine condition, where such opportunities are much rarer at temperate latitudes. Finally, resource exploitation in the tropics can be beneficially guided by insight into basic mechanisms that function in tropical aquatic ecosystems. The Orinoco River Basin has been a site of particular interest and activity for the Center for Limnology.

The Center for Limnology is extensively involved in studies of aquatic ecosystems in the Rocky Mountain West. Current or recent studies have involved the use of stable isotopes to test hypotheses about energy sources for aquatic foodwebs, for example. Recent graduates have studied the effects the mountain pine beetle on Colorado mountain streams and the effects of fish introductions on high-elevation lakes.  Numerous other projects involving biogeochemistry, water quality, and aquatic life are in various stages of completion in the Rockies under support from the Center.

One final area of emphasis is global biogeochemical cycling. In collaboration with others (e.g., through the international SCOPE Nitrogen Project), the Center has allocated considerable effort on analyses of the global nitrogen cycle. For example, the Center used its experience with tropical inland waters to analyze nitrogen output from tropical land masses under pristine conditions, and has developed a global budget for nitrogen export from watersheds under predisturbance conditions.  More recently, the Center has produced an estimate of the global primary production of lakes (insert hyperlink to Lewis 2011).

Center Facilities

The Center for Limnology maintains a complete inventory of equipment for ecological field studies of lakes, streams, and wetlands, including equipment for measurement of primary production and quantitative sampling of aquatic organisms.  The Center’s microscopy facility includes stereo microscopes, inverted microscopes, and other compound microscopes for sorting and identification of algae and invertebrates.  The Center also maintains facilities for low-level analyses of nutrients and organic carbon in limnological samples.

Center Collaborations

The Center for Limnology collaborates extensively with other research groups. Collaborators on campus include the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research and faculty from the Geography and Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering departments. Off campus collaborations include the SCOPE N committee, the Universidad Central de Venezuela, and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in Puerto Rico.