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Abrupt stop of deep water turnover with lake warming: Drastic consequences for algal primary producers


Yankova, Yana; Neuenschwander, Stefan; Köster, Oliver; Posch, Thomas (2017). Abrupt stop of deep water turnover with lake warming: Drastic consequences for algal primary producers. Scientific Reports, 7(1):13770.

Abstract

After strong fertilization in the 20th century, many deep lakes in Central Europe are again nutrient poor due to long-lasting restoration (re-oligotrophication). In line with reduced phosphorus and nitrogen loadings, total organismic productivity decreased and lakes have now historically low nutrient and biomass concentrations. This caused speculations that restoration was overdone and intended fertilizations are needed to ensure ecological functionality. Here we show that recent re-oligotrophication processes indeed accelerated, however caused by lake warming. Rising air temperatures strengthen thermal stabilization of water columns which prevents thorough turnover (holomixis). Reduced mixis impedes down-welling of oxygen rich epilimnetic (surface) and up-welling of phosphorus and nitrogen rich hypolimnetic (deep) water. However, nutrient inputs are essential for algal spring blooms acting as boost for annual food web successions. We show that repeated lack (since 1977) and complete stop (since 2013) of holomixis caused drastic epilimnetic phosphorus depletions and an absence of phytoplankton spring blooms in Lake Zurich (Switzerland). By simulating holomixis in experiments, we could induce significant vernal algal blooms, confirming that there would be sufficient hypolimnetic phosphorus which presently accumulates due to reduced export. Thus, intended fertilizations are highly questionable, as hypolimnetic nutrients will become available during future natural or artificial turnovers.

Abstract

After strong fertilization in the 20th century, many deep lakes in Central Europe are again nutrient poor due to long-lasting restoration (re-oligotrophication). In line with reduced phosphorus and nitrogen loadings, total organismic productivity decreased and lakes have now historically low nutrient and biomass concentrations. This caused speculations that restoration was overdone and intended fertilizations are needed to ensure ecological functionality. Here we show that recent re-oligotrophication processes indeed accelerated, however caused by lake warming. Rising air temperatures strengthen thermal stabilization of water columns which prevents thorough turnover (holomixis). Reduced mixis impedes down-welling of oxygen rich epilimnetic (surface) and up-welling of phosphorus and nitrogen rich hypolimnetic (deep) water. However, nutrient inputs are essential for algal spring blooms acting as boost for annual food web successions. We show that repeated lack (since 1977) and complete stop (since 2013) of holomixis caused drastic epilimnetic phosphorus depletions and an absence of phytoplankton spring blooms in Lake Zurich (Switzerland). By simulating holomixis in experiments, we could induce significant vernal algal blooms, confirming that there would be sufficient hypolimnetic phosphorus which presently accumulates due to reduced export. Thus, intended fertilizations are highly questionable, as hypolimnetic nutrients will become available during future natural or artificial turnovers.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:23 October 2017
Deposited On:22 Jan 2018 14:54
Last Modified:19 Feb 2018 10:29
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-13159-9
PubMed ID:29062037

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