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Concept: Lakes


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


Glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) is a serious hazard in high, mountainous regions. In the Himalayas, catastrophic risks of GLOFs have increased in recent years because most Himalayan glaciers have experienced remarkable downwasting under a warming climate. However, current knowledge about the distribution and recent changes in glacial lakes within the central Himalaya mountain range is still limited. Here, we conducted a systematic investigation of the glacial lakes within the entire central Himalaya range by using an object-oriented image processing method based on the Landsat Thematic Mapper ™ or Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) images from 1990 to 2010. We extracted the lake boundaries for four time points (1990, 2000, 2005 and 2010) and used a time series inspection method combined with a consistent spatial resolution of Landsat images that consistently revealed lake expansion. Our results show that the glacial lakes expanded rapidly by 17.11% from 1990 to 2010. The pre-existing, larger glacial lakes, rather than the newly formed lakes, contributed most to the areal expansion. The greatest expansions occurred at the altitudinal zones between 4800 m and 5600 m at the north side of the main Himalayan range and between 4500 m and 5600 m at the south side, respectively. Based on the expansion rate, area and type of glacial lakes, we identified 67 rapidly expanding glacial lakes in the central Himalayan region that need to be closely monitored in the future. The warming and increasing amounts of light-absorbing constituents of snow and ice could have accelerated the melting that directly affected the glacial lake expansion. Across the main central Himalayas, glacial lakes at the north side show more remarkable expansion than those at the south side. An effective monitoring and warning system for critical glacial lakes is urgently needed.

Concepts: Lake, People's Republic of China, Himalayas, Lakes, Karakoram


Toxic cyanobacterial blooms threaten freshwaters worldwide but have proven difficult to predict because the mechanisms of bloom formation and toxin production are unknown, especially on weekly time scales. Water quality management continues to focus on aggregated metrics, such as chlorophyll and total nutrients, which may not be sufficient to explain complex community changes and functions such as toxin production. For example, nitrogen (N) speciation and cycling play an important role, on daily time scales, in shaping cyanobacterial communities because declining N has been shown to select for N fixers. In addition, subsequent N pulses from N(2) fixation may stimulate and sustain toxic cyanobacterial growth. Herein, we describe how rapid early summer declines in N followed by bursts of N fixation have shaped cyanobacterial communities in a eutrophic lake (Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, USA), possibly driving toxic Microcystis blooms throughout the growing season. On weekly time scales in 2010 and 2011, we monitored the cyanobacterial community in a eutrophic lake using the phycocyanin intergenic spacer (PC-IGS) region to determine population dynamics. In parallel, we measured microcystin concentrations, N(2) fixation rates, and potential environmental drivers that contribute to structuring the community. In both years, cyanobacterial community change was strongly correlated with dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) concentrations, and Aphanizomenon and Microcystis alternated dominance throughout the pre-toxic, toxic, and post-toxic phases of the lake. Microcystin concentrations increased a few days after the first significant N(2) fixation rates were observed. Then, following large early summer N(2) fixation events, Microcystis increased and became most abundant. Maximum microcystin concentrations coincided with Microcystis dominance. In both years, DIN concentrations dropped again in late summer, and N(2) fixation rates and Aphanizomenon abundance increased before the lake mixed in the fall. Estimated N inputs from N(2) fixation were large enough to supplement, or even support, the toxic Microcystis blooms.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Lake, Eutrophic, Eutrophication, Water pollution, Nitrogen, Limnology, Lakes


Submerged macrophytes play an important role in maintaining good water quality in shallow lakes. Yet extensive stands easily interfere with various services provided by these lakes, and harvesting is increasingly applied as a management measure. Because shallow lakes may possess alternative stable states over a wide range of environmental conditions, designing a successful mowing strategy is challenging, given the important role of macrophytes in stabilizing the clear water state. In this study, the integrated ecosystem model PCLake is used to explore the consequences of mowing, in terms of reducing nuisance and ecosystem stability, for a wide range of external nutrient loadings, mowing intensities and timings. Elodea is used as a model species. Additionally, we use PCLake to estimate how much phosphorus is removed with the harvested biomass, and evaluate the long-term effect of harvesting. Our model indicates that mowing can temporarily reduce nuisance caused by submerged plants in the first weeks after cutting, particularly when external nutrient loading is fairly low. The risk of instigating a regime shift can be tempered by mowing halfway the growing season when the resilience of the system is highest, as our model showed. Up to half of the phosphorus entering the system can potentially be removed along with the harvested biomass. As a result, prolonged mowing can prevent an oligo-to mesotrophic lake from becoming eutrophic to a certain extent, as our model shows that the critical nutrient loading, where the lake shifts to the turbid phytoplankton-dominated state, can be slightly increased.

Concepts: Ecology, Lake, Eutrophic, Eutrophication, Water pollution, Viticulture, Turbidity, Lakes


Coastal marine systems are greatly altered by toxic marine algae, eutrophication and hypoxia. These problems have been linked to decreased ratios of dissolved silica to inorganic nitrogen (Si : DIN) delivered from land. Two mechanisms for this decline under consideration are enhanced nitrogen (N) fertiliser losses from agricultural lands or Si sequestration in reservoirs. Here we examine these mechanisms via nutrient concentrations in impoundments receiving water from 130 watersheds in a landscape representative of the agriculture that often dominates coastal nutrient inputs. Decreased Si : DIN was correlated with agriculture, not impoundment. Watersheds with > 60% agricultural land yielded highest DIN, whereas Si was uncorrelated with agricultural intensity. Furthermore, eutrophic lakes were dominated by Cyanobacteria that use little Si, so reservoirs did not diminish Si : DIN. Instead, Si : DIN increased slightly as reservoir residence time increased. These data suggest that impoundments in agricultural watersheds may enhance the water quality of coastal ecosystems, whereas fertiliser losses are detrimental.

Concepts: Algae, Oxygen, Agriculture, Eutrophication, Water pollution, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Lakes


As the human population grows, the demand for living space and supplies of resources also increases, which may induce rapid change in land-use/land-cover (LULC) and associated pressures exerted on aquatic habitats. We propose a new approach to forecast the impact of regional land cover change and water management policies (i.e., targets in nutrient loads reduction) on lake and reservoir water eutrophication status using a model that requires minimal parameterisation compared with alternative methods. This approach was applied to a set of 48 periurban lakes located in the Ile de France region (IDF, France) to simulate catchment-scale management scenarios. Model outputs were subsequently compared to governmental agencies' 2030 forecasts. Our model indicated that the efforts made to reduce pressure in the catchment of seepage lakes might be expected to be proportional to the gain that might be obtained, whereas drainage lakes will display little improvement until a critical level of pressure reduction is reached. The model also indicated that remediation measures, as currently planned by governmental agencies, might only have a marginal impact on improving the eutrophication status of lakes and reservoirs within the IDF region. Despite the commitment to appropriately managing the water resources in many countries, prospective tools to evaluate the potential impacts of global change on freshwater ecosystems integrity at medium to large spatial scales are lacking. This study proposes a new approach to investigate the impact of region-scale human-driven changes on lake and reservoir ecological status and could be implemented elsewhere with limited parameterisation. Issues are discussed that relate to model uncertainty and to its relevance as a tool applied to decision-making.

Concepts: Water, Lake, Water pollution, Water management, Hydrology, Drainage basin, Water supply, Lakes


Sediment microbial communities play an important role in lake trophic status. This study determined millions of Illumina reads (16S rRNA gene amplicons) to compare the bacterial communities in moderately eutrophic, lightly eutrophic, and moderately trophic regions using a technically consistent approach. The results indicated that the sediments from moderately eutrophic and trophic lake had the higher bacterial diversity than lightly eutrophic lake. Proteobacteria was the most abundant phylum (22.7%-86.2%) across samples from three regions. The sediments from moderately eutrophic region were enriched with Chloroflexi and Nitrospirae. Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes were enriched in the sediments from lightly eutrophic lake. The sediments from moderately trophic lake contained a high abundance of Acidobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria because of the low pH of the sediments in this lake. In moderately eutrophic region, Nitrospira held an absolute predominance, while Lysobacter and Flavobacterium were the most predominant genera in lightly eutrophic region. Temperature was the main factor influencing the bacterial community in the three lakes. The bacterial communities in the sediment samples obtained from moderately eutrophic lake were associated with nutrient concentration, whereas organic matter and total nitrogen contents mainly influenced the bacterial communities in sediments obtained from lightly eutrophic lake and moderately trophic lake, respectively.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, Lake, Eutrophication, 16S ribosomal RNA, Proteobacteria, Lakes


Ngangtse Co (4535 m a.s.l., 840 km(2)) is a typical endorheic lake in Tibet. In 2015, we investigated the fish resource in this lake and its rivers and collected two Triplophysa species, including T. brevicauda and T. stewarti. To understand the evolutionary dynamics of Triplophysa in Ngangtse Co, the adaptive and genetic divergence between river and lake populations were investigated by analysing their morphological characteristics and mitochondrial COI and Cytb sequences. Among all of 277 samples, the ratios of the number of T. brevicauda to T. stewarti were 27:8, 34:11, 14:24, 37:0, 16:23 and 0:83 in river populations RA, RB, RC, RD, lakeside population LSE and lake population L, respectively. For T. brevicauda, a small but significant genetic divergence (mean FST = 0.0890) was detected between population RD and other three river populations, and significant morphological differences of body length/body height and body length/caudal peduncle length were observed between population RD and RA, RB, suggesting an association between differentiation and geographical distance. For T. stewarti, very high levels of genetic differentiation was observed between population L and other populations with the FST values ranging from 0.4737 (L-RA) to 0.7074 (L-RC). In addition, significant differences of most of morphological characteristics were observed between the lake (L) and river (RC) populations, indicating that lake fish of T. stewarti was a population that showed a long-term adaptation to the saltwater lake. These results provide insights on the evolutionary dynamics of Triplophysa in Ngangtse Co and help us to understand the fish speciation in endorheic lakes on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

Concepts: Evolution, Biology, Caspian Sea, Fluvial landforms, Lakes, Dead Sea, Endorheic basin, Endorheic lakes


Aquatic ecosystems of the Bolivian Altiplano (∼3800 m a.s.l.) are characterized by extreme hydro-climatic constrains (e.g., high UV-radiations and low oxygen) and are under the pressure of increasing anthropogenic activities, unregulated mining, agricultural and urban development. We report here a complete inventory of mercury (Hg) levels and speciation in the water column, atmosphere, sediment and key sentinel organisms (i.e., plankton, fish and birds) of two endorheic Lakes of the same watershed differing with respect to their size, eutrophication and contamination levels. Total Hg (THg) and monomethylmercury (MMHg) concentrations in filtered water and sediment of Lake Titicaca are in the lowest range of reported levels in other large lakes worldwide. Downstream, Hg levels are 3-10 times higher in the shallow eutrophic Lake Uru-Uru than in Lake Titicaca due to high Hg inputs from the surrounding mining region. High percentages of MMHg were found in the filtered and unfiltered water rising up from <1 to ∼50% THg from the oligo/hetero-trophic Lake Titicaca to the eutrophic Lake Uru-Uru. Such high %MMHg is explained by a high in situ MMHg production in relation to the sulfate rich substrate, the low oxygen levels of the water column, and the stabilization of MMHg due to abundant ligands present in these alkaline waters. Differences in MMHg concentrations in water and sediments compartments between Lake Titicaca and Uru-Uru were found to mirror the offset in MMHg levels that also exist in their respective food webs. This suggests that in situ MMHg baseline production is likely the main factor controlling MMHg levels in fish species consumed by the local population. Finally, the increase of anthropogenic pressure in Lake Titicaca may probably enhance eutrophication processes which favor MMHg production and thus accumulation in water and biota.

Concepts: Water, Lake, Eutrophication, Water pollution, Bolivia, Altiplano, Lake Titicaca, Lakes


The increased inputs of nutrients have been demonstrated to be a major contributing factor to the eutrophication of lakes and reservoirs which can lead to the production of harmful algal/cyanobacterial blooms and deleteriously affect the aesthetics of water-bodies. Floating plant-culture systems have been widely used for the ecological remediation of eutrophic water in a cost-effective manner. We investigated the applicability of Korean japonica rice variety ‘Nampyeong’ in a floating-culture system in a eutrophic lake for nutrient uptake and biomass production. Chemical and organic compound compositions were analyzed two times during the growth stages of the rice plant: 98 DAT (days after transplanting) and 165 DAT. Total nitrogen and phosphorus contributed around 1.36 and 0.15 (% dry weight), respectively, in rice plant components at 165 DAT. Crude protein, lipids, fiber and ash were 4.35, 1.91, 23.66 and 5.55 (% dry weight), respectively. In addition, microcystin levels in the rice plant components ranged from 0.0008 to 0.002 μg/g and did not exceed the recommended tolerable limits. These results suggested that the developed floating rice-culture system showed a good potential as a holistic management approach in terms of nutrient reduction, rice production for further use as feed and for bloom control.

Concepts: Nutrition, Lake, Eutrophic, Eutrophication, Nutrient, Nitrogen, Rice, Lakes