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Concept: Lake


Macrophyte decomposition is important for carbon and nutrient cycling in lake ecosystems. Currently, little is known about how this process responds to detritus quality and water nutrient conditions in eutrophic shallow lakes in which incomplete decomposition of detritus accelerates the lake terrestrialization process. In this study, we investigated the effects of detritus quality and water nutrient concentrations on macrophyte decomposition in Lake Baiyangdian, China, by analyzing the decomposition of three major aquatic plants at three sites with different pollution intensities (low, medium, and high pollution sites). Detritus quality refers to detritus nutrient contents as well as C:N, C:P, and N:P mass ratios in this study. Effects of detritus mixtures were tested by combining pairs of representative macrophytes at ratios of 75:25, 50:50 and 25:75 (mass basis). The results indicate that the influence of species types on decomposition was stronger than that of site conditions. Correlation analysis showed that mass losses at the end of the experimental period were significantly controlled by initial detritus chemistry, especially by the initial phosphorus (P) content, carbon to nitrogen (C:N), and carbon to phosphorus (C:P) mass ratios in the detritus. The decomposition processes were also influenced by water chemistry. The NO(3)-N and NH(4)-N concentrations in the lake water retarded detritus mass loss at the low and high pollution sites, respectively. Net P mineralization in detritus was observed at all sites and detritus P release at the high pollution site was slower than at the other two sites. Nonadditive effects of mixtures tended to be species specific due to the different nutrient contents in each species. Results suggest that the nonadditive effects varied significantly among different sites, indicating that interactions between the detritus quality in species mixtures and site water chemistry may be another driver controlling decomposition in eutrophic shallow lakes.

Concepts: Oxygen, Plant, Lake, Eutrophication, Hydrogen, Water pollution, Nitrogen, Lakes


Global climate change is causing a wastage of glaciers and threatening biodiversity in glacier-fed ecosystems. The high turbidity typically found in those ecosystems, which is caused by inorganic particles and result of the erosive activity of glaciers is a key environmental factor influencing temperature and light availability, as well as other factors in the water column. Once these lakes loose hydrological connectivity to glaciers and turn clear, the accompanying environmental changes could represent a potential bottleneck for the established local diversity with yet unknown functional consequences. Here, we study three lakes situated along a turbidity gradient as well as one clear unconnected lake and evaluate seasonal changes in their bacterial community composition and diversity. Further, we assess potential consequences for community functioning. Glacier runoff represented a diverse source community for the lakes and several taxa were able to colonize downstream turbid habitats, although they were not found in the clear lake. Operational taxonomic unit-based alpha diversity and phylogenetic diversity decreased along the turbidity gradient, but metabolic functional diversity was negatively related to turbidity. No evidence for multifunctional redundancy, which may allow communities to maintain functioning upon alterations in diversity, was found. Our study gives a first view on how glacier-fed lake bacterial communities are affected by the melting of glaciers and indicates that diversity and community composition significantly change when hydrological connectivity to the glacier is lost and lakes turn clear.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 15 January 2016; doi:10.1038/ismej.2015.245.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Lake, Climate, Water pollution, Antarctica, Surface runoff, Turbidity, Glacier mass balance


The highest densities of lakes on Earth are in north temperate ecosystems, where increasing urbanization and associated chloride runoff can salinize freshwaters and threaten lake water quality and the many ecosystem services lakes provide. However, the extent to which lake salinity may be changing at broad spatial scales remains unknown, leading us to first identify spatial patterns and then investigate the drivers of these patterns. Significant decadal trends in lake salinization were identified using a dataset of long-term chloride concentrations from 371 North American lakes. Landscape and climate metrics calculated for each site demonstrated that impervious land cover was a strong predictor of chloride trends in Northeast and Midwest North American lakes. As little as 1% impervious land cover surrounding a lake increased the likelihood of long-term salinization. Considering that 27% of large lakes in the United States have >1% impervious land cover around their perimeters, the potential for steady and long-term salinization of these aquatic systems is high. This study predicts that many lakes will exceed the aquatic life threshold criterion for chronic chloride exposure (230 mg L(-1)), stipulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the next 50 y if current trends continue.

Concepts: Water, Lake, United States, Climate, Water pollution, Ecosystem, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes


The absence of well-executed environmental monitoring in the Athabasca oil sands (Alberta, Canada) has necessitated the use of indirect approaches to determine background conditions of freshwater ecosystems before development of one of the Earth’s largest energy deposits. Here, we use highly resolved lake sediment records to provide ecological context to ∼50 y of oil sands development and other environmental changes affecting lake ecosystems in the region. We show that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) within lake sediments, particularly C1-C4-alkylated PAHs, increased significantly after development of the bitumen resource began, followed by significant increases in dibenzothiophenes. Total PAH fluxes in the modern sediments of our six study lakes, including one site ∼90 km northwest of the major development area, are now ∼2.5-23 times greater than ∼1960 levels. PAH ratios indicate temporal shifts from primarily wood combustion to petrogenic sources that coincide with greater oil sands development. Canadian interim sediment quality guidelines for PAHs have been exceeded since the mid-1980s at the most impacted site. A paleoecological assessment of Daphnia shows that this sentinel zooplankter has not yet been negatively impacted by decades of high atmospheric PAH deposition. Rather, coincident with increases in PAHs, climate-induced shifts in aquatic primary production related to warmer and drier conditions are the primary environmental drivers producing marked daphniid shifts after ∼1960 to 1970. Because of the striking increase in PAHs, elevated primary production, and zooplankton changes, these oil sands lake ecosystems have entered new ecological states completely distinct from those of previous centuries.

Concepts: Lake, Sediment, Petroleum, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Alberta, Canada, Aromaticity, Oil sands


The discovery on Mars of recurring slope lineae (RSL), thought to represent seasonal brines, has sparked interest in analogous environments on Earth. We report on new studies of Don Juan Pond (DJP), which exists at the upper limit of ephemeral water in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) of Antarctica, and is adjacent to several steep-sloped water tracks, the closest analog for RSL. The source of DJP has been interpreted to be deep groundwater. We present time-lapse data and meteorological measurements that confirm deliquescence within the DJP watershed and show that this, together with small amounts of meltwater, are capable of generating brines that control summertime water levels. Groundwater input was not observed. In addition to providing an analog for RSL formation, CaCl(2) brines and chloride deposits in basins may provide clues to the origin of ancient chloride deposits on Mars dating from the transition period from “warm/wet” to “cold/dry” climates.

Concepts: Water, Lake, Antarctica, McMurdo Dry Valleys, McMurdo Sound, Dead Sea, Don Juan Pond, Lake Assal


In stratified lakes internal waves has great ecological significance since they affect mixing, resuspension, material transport, chemical regime and ecosystem productivity. Reconstruction of spatio-temporal heterogeneity of the basin scale internal waves and their accurate parameterization are important tasks. The effect of internal Kelvin waves (IKWs) on spatiotemporal variability of the mid-frequency (1 kHz) sound field in a deep lake using geoacoustic modeling is studied. It is demonstrated that IKWs cause significant fluctuations of the sound field, such as horizontal shift of interference structure. This shift can be easily measured in situ and used for practical reconstruction of IKW parameters. Overall, it is suggested implementing the low-cost geoacoustic methodology for accurate parameterization of the basin scale internal waves and studying their dynamics.

Concepts: Diffraction, Lake, Physical oceanography, Frequency, Wavelength, In situ, Waves, The Basin, Victoria


Plant and animal biodiversity can be studied by obtaining DNA directly from the environment. This new approach in combination with the use of generic barcoding primers (metabarcoding) has been suggested as complementary or alternative to traditional biodiversity monitoring in ancient soil sediments. However, the extent to which metabarcoding truly reflects plant composition remains unclear, as does its power to identify species with no pollen or macrofossil evidence. Here, we compared pollen-based and metabarcoding approaches to explore the Holocene plant composition around two lakes in central Scandinavia. At one site, we also compared barcoding results with those obtained in earlier studies with species-specific primers. The pollen analyses revealed a larger number of taxa (46), of which the majority (78%) was not identified by metabarcoding. The metabarcoding identified 14 taxa (MTUs), but allowed identification to a lower taxonomical level. The combined analyses identified 52 taxa. The barcoding primers may favour amplification of certain taxa, as they did not detect taxa previously identified with species-specific primers. Taphonomy and selectiveness of the primers are likely the major factors influencing these results. We conclude that metabarcoding from lake sediments provides a complementary, but not an alternative, tool to pollen analysis for investigating past flora. In the absence of other fossil evidence, metabarcoding gives a local and important signal from the vegetation, but the resulting assemblages show limited capacity to detect all taxa, regardless of their abundance around the lake. We suggest that metabarcoding is followed by pollen analysis and the use of species-specific primers to provide the most comprehensive signal from the environment.

Concepts: Fungus, Ecology, Lake, Sediment, Natural environment, Pollination, Fossil, Palynology


Lake sediments are valuable archives of atmospheric metal deposition, but the stability of some element profiles may possibly be affected by diagenetic changes over time. In this extensive case study, the stability of sedimentary Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb and Zn profiles was assessed in dated sediment cores that were collected in 2004 from four smelter-affected lakes near Flin Flon, Manitoba, which had previously been cored in 1985. Metal profiles determined in 1985 were in most cases clearly reproduced in the corresponding sediment layers in 2004, although small-scale spatial heterogeneity in metal distribution complicated the temporal comparisons. Pre-smelter (i.e. pre-1930) increases in metal profiles were likely the result of long-range atmospheric metal pollution, coupled with particle mixing at the 1930s sediment surface. However, the close agreement between key inflection points in the metal profiles sampled two decades apart suggests that metals in most of the lakes, and Hg and Zn in the most contaminated lake (Meridian), were stable once the sediments were buried below the surface mixed layer. Cadmium, Cu and Pb profiles in Meridian Lake did not agree as well between studies, showing evidence of upward remobilization over time. Profiles of redox-indicator elements (Fe, Mn, Mo and U) suggested that the rate of Mn oxyhydroxide recycling within sediment was more rapid in Meridian Lake, which may have caused the Cd, Cu and Pb redistribution.

Concepts: Lake, Sediment, Sedimentary rock, Metal, Copper, Cadmium, Fossil, Flin Flon


Dal Lake, a cradle of Kashmiri civilization has strong linkage with socioeconomics of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. During last few decades, anthropogenic pressures in Dal Lake Catchment have caused environmental deterioration impairing, inter-alia, sustained biotic communities and water quality. The present research was an integrated impact analysis of socioeconomic and biophysical processes at the watershed level on the current status of Dal Lake using multi-sensor and multi-temporal satellite data, simulation modelling together with field data verification. Thirteen watersheds (designated as ‘W1-W13’) were identified and investigated for land use/land cover change detection, quantification of erosion and sediment loads and socioeconomic analysis (total population, total households, literacy rate and economic development status). All the data for the respective watersheds was integrated into the GIS environment based upon multi-criteria analysis and knowledge-based weightage system was adopted for watershed prioritization based on its factors and after carefully observing the field situation. The land use/land cover change detection revealed significant changes with a uniform trend of decreased vegetation and increased impervious surface cover. Increased erosion and sediment loadings were recorded for the watersheds corresponding to their changing land systems, with bare and agriculture lands being the major contributors. The prioritization analysis revealed that W5 > W2 > W6 > W8 > W1 ranked highest in priority and W13 > W3 > W4 > W11 > W7 under medium priority. W12 > W9 > W10 belonged to low-priority category. The integration of the biophysical and the socioeconomic environment at the watershed level using modern geospatial tools would be of vital importance for the conservation and management strategies of Dal Lake ecosystem.

Concepts: Lake, Literacy, Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmir, Srinagar, Houseboat, Kashmir conflict, Kashmiri language


Tropical wetlands are highly threatened socio-ecological systems, where local communities rely heavily on aquatic animal protein, such as fish, to meet food security. Here, we quantify how a ‘win-win’ community-based resource management program induced stock recovery of the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish (Arapaima gigas), providing both food and income. We analyzed stock assessment data over eight years and examined the effects of protected areas, community-based management, and landscape and limnological variables across 83 oxbow lakes monitored along a ~500-km section of the Juruá River of Western Brazilian Amazonia. Patterns of community management explained 71.8% of the variation in arapaima population sizes. Annual population counts showed that protected lakes on average contained 304.8 (±332.5) arapaimas, compared to only 9.2 (±9.8) in open-access lakes. Protected lakes have become analogous to a high-interest savings account, ensuring an average annual revenue of US$10,601 per community and US$1046.6 per household, greatly improving socioeconomic welfare. Arapaima management is a superb window of opportunity in harmonizing the co-delivery of sustainable resource management and poverty alleviation. We show that arapaima management deserves greater attention from policy makers across Amazonian countries, and highlight the need to include local stakeholders in conservation planning of Amazonian floodplains.

Concepts: Poverty, Lake, River, Amazon River, Sustainability, Freshwater fish, Limnology, Oxbow lake