Katherine Barrett

2018 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship Winner

University of Notre Dame


Kathine Barrett of the University of Notre Dame is the recipient of the 2018 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship for research related to Great Salt Lake. She will accept the $1,000 scholarship at the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum. 

Title: Linking Artemia to the Benthos: Do Microbialites Support Brine Shrimp Production in Great Salt Lake?

Thursday, May 10, 11:45 AM 

Project Description: Despite covering at least 700 km2 in the south arm of Great Salt Lake (GSL), fundamental ecological understanding of microbialites, their associated brine fly populations, and interactions with brine shrimp, is in its nascent stages (Baskin 2014). Researchers have suggested that the benthic (brine fly) and pelagic (brine shrimp) food chains may be linked, and microbialites may be a critical component of brine shrimp cyst production. A long-term pelagic study has benefitted researchers and managers with an understanding of brine shrimp and phytoplankton dynamics in relationship to variable abiotic factors, but this dataset lacks a complementary benthic study (Belovsky et al. 2011). Without further information on the benthic food chain, the importance of pathways supporting brine shrimp production remains speculative. My proposed research, which involves field and laboratory studies, aims to identify microbialite communities and quantify their contribution as a food source to brine shrimp populations in GSL. Since the construction of a rock and gravel railroad causeway created a salinity gradient in GSL, my project will focus on the south arm because that is where brine flies, shrimp, and microbialites are biologically active.