Planktonic Ecosystem

Hypersaline lakes are often regarded as “simple” ecosystems because they typically have fewer species than freshwater lakes. Although fewer species are capable of tolerating the stress of a salty lake, those species that are present interact on many levels to efficiently use the food and energy resources available. There is an open water (planktonic) habitat and a bottom-dwelling (benthic) habitat in Great Salt Lake.

The planktonic habitat is dominated early in the year by phytoplankton (algae) blooms. These often occur in January when the water temperature is only a few degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit). In the last few years, the green alga, Dunaliella viridis, has bloomed at this time and been followed by blooms of several species of diatoms.

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