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, 93 (2), 268-275

The First Decade of Oligotrophication in Lake Constance : I. The Response of Phytoplankton Biomass and Cell Size


The First Decade of Oligotrophication in Lake Constance : I. The Response of Phytoplankton Biomass and Cell Size

Ursula Gaedke et al. Oecologia.


Phytoplankton biomass and species composition were measured with a relatively high temporal resolution (once or twice a week during the growing season) from 1979 to 1989 in Lake Constance/Überlingersee. Over this period soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) concentrations during winter mixing were reduced by ca. 50% from 104 to 47 μg 1-1, which caused a prolongation and amplification of the epilimnetic P depletion during the growth period. Seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton reacted to the decrease of SRP in the following ways: (1) Algal biomass decreased at least proportionally to the winter SRP concentrations in summer, but not in spring and autumn when biomass fluctuated irregularly. (2) The peak of biomass concentration changed from summer to spring. (3) The earlier onset of epilimnetic P depletion during the season in recent years promoted a stronger growth of some pennate diatoms in spring. It caused an amplification of the silicon depletion in summer, which may cause still greater reduction of diatoms and total algal biomass in summer. (4) Reduction of algal biomass during the clear-water phase proper became shorter and less pronounced. (5) The temporal variability of algal biomass decreased in summer and autumn but not in spring. (6) Average cell sizes remained unchanged in summer and autumn but increased in spring during the beginning of oligotrophication. These results are largely in agreement with other studies on lake restoration and expectations derived from the PEG (Plankton Ecology Group) model (Sommer et al. 1986). They show that a 50% reduction of SRP concentrations during homothermy may have pronounced effects on seasonal dynamics of algal biomass in a large and deep lake. The algal response to the external change of SRP concentrations can be described by the Le Chatelier principle, implying that the internal structure of the system (e.g. species composition) changes in order to minimize the effect of the external pressure (e.g. reduction of total biomass). Suggestions are made as to how this system behaviour may emerge from local interactions.

Keywords: Oligotrophication; P limitation; Phytoplankton biomass; Seasonal dynamics; Variability.

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