Due to the eutrophication of water bodies, large and intense phytoplankton blooms, most commonly associated to cyanobacteria, have been increasingly reported. Cyanobacteria blooms can cause negative socioeconomic effects or even pose a serious risk to human and animal health. To minimize possible harmful effects, the authorities need to monitor and report the bloom situations to the public. The standard laboratory methods for quantifying phytoplankton biomass are accurate, but have flaws in practical management use: specialized expertise is required, and they are time-consuming. We have tested practical solutions to monitor cyanobacteria nearly real-time by using probes measuring phycocyanin fluorescence, which can be used as a proxy for cyanobacteria biomass. In the basic application, a fluorescence probe is mounted in a datalogger monitoring station in the field and the results calibrated to cyanobacteria concentration are transferred via GSM to a web page available to the authorities and the public. To indicate the risk levels of cyanobacteria concentration to the public we have used a 3-scale ‘traffic light’ system. The automated monitoring station applications used in our studies, with nearly real-time web results, are an applicable and relatively low-cost method to monitor sensitive sites like water intakes, aquaculture and recreational areas.

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