Document Type


Date of Award



College of Science, Engineering, and Technology (COSET)

Degree Name

MS in Biology

First Advisor

Associate Professor Fawzia Abdel-Rahman


The Houston Ship Channel (HSC) is a narrow tidal channel about 50 miles long, 400 feet wide, and 40 feet deep. The Houston Ship Channel extends 51 miles from its juncture with the city channel at Bolivar Roads at the entrance to Galveston Bay and terminates at the turning basin in the City of Houston, lower 26 miles of the H.S.C. traverse the bay and the upper 25 miles reverence section follows the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou, two tributaries to the bay. The Houston Ship Channel has been recognized as a severely contaminated industrial port for decades (Glonya and Malina, 1964). This contamination enters the HSC through urban runoff, municipal and industrial discharges, agricultural runoff, aerial deposition, and accidental spills of chemicals and petroleum into numerous drainage and bayous. Most of these contaminants have lower water solubility and will absorb or adsorb to suspended particulate matter in the water column and settle to the bottom layer of the Galveston Bay system. The purpose of this research is (1) to determine the biodiversity and seasonal variation of Houston Ship Channel Plankton and (2) to evaluate the utility of HPLC-based pigment analysis as well as spectrophotometrical and fluorometrical analysis for detecting changes in such species composition biomass of Houston ship channel. Sampling sites were chosen to ensure that spatial and environmental variability would be represented. The spring bloom period was selected to provide a strong signal when both the phytoplankton species 1 2 composition and biomass change rapidly. Plankton and algal samples were collected from different stations at different seasons of the year. The identification and description of different algae andlor plankton were carried out using Light Microscopy (LM) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Some of the planktonic bacteria present at different stations were isolated and identified using the Biology system. Chlorophyll was measured using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), UVNIZ Spectrophotometer, and Fluorometer. The determination of algal biomass was based on assuming that chlorophyll-a constitutes on the average, 1.5 percent of the dry weight organic matter (ash free weight) of the algae. The HPLC results were compared to the results obtained from the traditional methodology of cell coun ting to determine the biomass.