Seasonally varying effects of environmental factors on phytoplankton abundance in the regulated rivers

Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 25;9(1):9266. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45621-1.


This study investigates a seasonally varying response of phytoplankton biomass to environmental factors in rivers. Artificial neural network (ANN) models incorporated with a clustering technique, the clustered ANN models, were employed to analyze the relationship between chlorophyll a (Chl-a) and the explanatory variables in the regulated Nakdong River, South Korea. The results show that weir discharge (Q) and total phosphorus (TP) were the most influential factors on temporal dynamics of Chl-a. The relative importance of both variables increased up to higher than 30% for low water temperature seasons with dominance of diatoms. While, during summer when cyanobacteria predominated, the significance of Q increased up to 45%, while that of TP declined to about 10%. These tendencies highlight that the effects of the river environmental factors on phytoplankton abundance was temporally inhomogeneous. In harmful algal bloom mitigation scenarios, the clustered ANN models reveals that the optimal weir discharge was 400 m3/s which was 67% of the value derived from the non-clustered ANN models. At the immediate downstream of confluence of the Kumho River, the optimal weir discharge should increase up to about 1.5 times because of the increase in the tributary pollutant loads attributed to electrical conductivity (EC).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't