Spatial and temporal particulate variability at an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) site in Kyuquot Sound, British Columbia, using bio-optical methods




Del Bel Belluz, Justin

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The goal of this thesis was to detail spatial and temporal organic particulate dynamics at an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) site on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. To accomplish this goal, in-situ optical measurements of particulate scattering (bp), particulate backscattering (bbp) and the particulate backscattering ratio (bbp:bp) were collected in conjunction with discrete sampling for particulate organic carbon (POC) and chlorophyll a (chl a) concentrations. These measurements were performed over three seasons (autumn, winter and summer) at reference sites and at sites within and directly adjacent to the fish component of the IMTA system. Chapter 2 of this thesis focused on the examination of bio-optical relationships over various timescales (seasonally, daily and within-day) to describe temporal and vertical particulate variability and to assess the effectiveness of bio-optical methods for environmental monitoring. Autumn showed low bio-optical magnitudes with distinct lower cage increases possibly attributable to aquaculture derived wastes. In spring, sampling was performed over diatom bloom conditions, dominating the bio-optical measurements. During summer, an Emiliania Huxleyi bloom likely occurred, strongly enhancing bbp and bbp:bp magnitudes in the thermally stratified upper water column. Throughout these conditions, bp was predominantly influenced by chl a suggesting sensitivity to phytoplankton concentrations. While bbp was conditioned by chl a during the diatom bloom, it was also highly sensitive to the presence of inorganic and likely detrital materials. Finally, bbp:bp was sensitive to particulate compositions, showing low values (< 0.010) in diatom dominated waters and high values when refractive coccoliths were likely present. Notably, in autumn, bbp:bp was conditioned by detrital particles and along with bbp, showed post-feeding lower cage increases suggesting that these parameters could be useful candidates for particulate waste tracking during low ambient particle conditions. In chapter 3, the temporal, vertical and horizontal dispersion of the aquaculture derived particulate wastes are detailed. Autumn was the only period to show waste signals, likely due to their quick dilution into the particulate rich fields in spring/summer. During this period, post-feeding particulate waste increases were focused at the bottom of the cage with possible vertical sinking towards the seafloor. Minimal horizontal dispersion towards the scallop portion of the system was observed; however, more comprehensive sampling over differing hydrographic regimes is necessary to characterize waste dispersion. Based on our temporally limited autumn results, the most appropriate placement of uptake species for waste assimilation would be directly below the studied cage. Our results highlight the need for high spatial and temporal resolution methods for particulate monitoring within IMTA settings as discrete sampling may miss “patchy” waste dispersal streams. The bio-optical measurements performed during this study could fill this need as they can provide high resolution information on particulate concentrations and compositions not achievable solely through the use of discrete water sampling. With further research, optical instrumentation could be incorporated into IMTA systems allowing for the near real time and continuous collection of data on particulate dynamics. This knowledge could greatly aid in the design and implementation of systems optimized for waste removal by uptake species.



Bio-Optics, Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture, IMTA, Backscatter, Scattering, Particulate Waste Dispersal, Optical Properties, Spatial and Temporal Variability