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How light conditions influence theoretical pelagic to benthic primary production ratios in small lakes

Cremona, Fabien, Laas, Alo, Kõiv, Toomas, Sepp, Margot, Nõges, Peeter, Nõges, Tiina
Lakes & reservoirs 2019 v.24 no.1 pp. 18-23
color, empirical models, lakes, morphometry, organic carbon, periphyton, phytoplankton, primary productivity, total phosphorus, turbidity, Estonia
Theoretical pelagic primary production of phytoplankton and benthic primary production of periphyton were modelled for two small lakes in Estonia (Northeast Europe). Although located only 500 m apart, the water colour and light attenuation of these two lakes differed markedly. The Secchi depth (SD) in the clear‐water lake was 4.5 m and only 0.47 m in the dark‐water lake. The total phosphorus (TP) concentrations were, respectively, 15 μg/l and 28 μg/l. An empirical model whose inputs were morphometric, light conditions and dissolved organic carbon parameters obtained from in situ measurements was employed for the present study. The model calculated primary production with a time‐step of 10 min, and a spatial resolution of 10 cm, from sunrise to sunset and from lake surface to lake bottom. The primary production of periphyton and phytoplankton was almost equal in the clear lake, whereas only phytoplankton contributed to whole‐lake primary production in the dark lake because of the stronger light attenuation in the water column. The results of the present study indicated the depth‐distribution profiles differed dramatically between the two lakes. The clear lake had a deep, U‐shaped curve, with the productive layer reaching considerable depth soon after sunrise and maintaining a similar profile throughout the light hours. In contrast, the dark lake production declined rapidly with increasing depth, whereas the profile changed over the day reaching the greatest depth at noon.