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The recent eutrophication of Baldeggersee (Switzerland) as assessed by fossil diatom assemblages

Lotter, André F.
TheHolocene 1998 v.8 no.4 pp. 395-405
Cyclotella, Stephanodiscus, Tabellaria, calcite, eutrophication, fossils, lakes, models, phosphorus, plankton, pollution load, sediments, temperature, total phosphorus, variance, Switzerland
Diatom analyses with an annual resolution were carried out on varves of the hypertrophic Baldeggersee (Central Swiss Plateau) for the timespan ad 1885 to 1993. They reveal seven major changes in the dominant planktonic diatoms. As a result of progressive nutrient enrichment, Baldeggersee changed in the 1910s from a Cyclotella to a Tabellaria fenestrata dominated assemblage, and eventually in the 1950s to a Stephanodiscus parvus dominated diatom assemblage. The timing and direction of diatom-assemblage changes in the varved sediment compare well with sedimentological and limnological observations. Partitioning of the variance in the diatom data revealed that TP is a stronger explanatory variable than temperature for these changes. A diatom-inferred total phosphorus (TP) reconstruction indicates three major steps in eutrophication, occurring at 1909, the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s. Comparison with TP measurements in the water column demonstrates that the diatom-TP inference model used is able to hindcast past TP concentrations reliably. The major steps in eutrophication led to decreases in diatom diversity and also resulted in a progressive increase of calcite grain-size. The lake restoration programme established since 1982 shows no direct impact on the composition of the diatom assemblages. However, the decrease in phosphorus loads since the mid-1970s is reflected in the diatom assemblages and in decreasing diatom-inferred TP concentrations.