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Factors controlling the three-decade long rise in cyanobacteria biomass in a eutrophic shallow lake

Cremona, Fabien, Tuvikene, Lea, Haberman, Juta, Nõges, Peeter, Nõges, Tiina
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.621 pp. 352-359
Cladocera, Copepoda, Cyanobacteria, Rotifera, biomass, databases, eutrophication, global warming, lakes, models, monitoring, nitrates, nitrogen content, pH, phosphorus, variance, water temperature, Estonia
We aimed at quantifying the importance of limnological variables in the decadal rise of cyanobacteria biomass in shallow hemiboreal lakes. We constructed estimates of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) biomass in a large, eutrophic lake (Estonia, Northeastern Europe) from a database comprising 28 limnological variables and spanning more than 50years of monitoring. Using a dual-model approach consisting in a boosted regression trees (BRT) followed by a generalized least squares (GLS) model, our results revealed that six variables were most influential for assessing the variance of cyanobacteria biomass. Cyanobacteria response to nitrate concentration and rotifer abundance was negative, whereas it was positive to pH, temperature, cladoceran and copepod biomass. Response to total phosphorus (TP) and total phosphorus to total nitrogen ratio was very weak, which suggests that actual in-lake TP concentration is still above limiting values. The most efficient GLS model, which explained nearly two thirds (r2=0.65) of the variance of cyanobacteria biomass included nitrate concentration, water temperature and pH. The very high number of observations (maximum n=525) supports the robustness of the models. Our results suggest that the decadal rise of blue-green algae in shallow lakes lies in the interaction between cultural eutrophication and global warming which bring in-lake physical and chemical conditions closer to cyanobacteria optima.