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Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus on phytoplankton composition and biomass in 15 subtropical, urban shallow lakes in Wuhan, China

Jin Lv, Hongjuan Wu, Mengqiu Chen
Limnologica 2011 v.41 no.1 pp. 48-56
Cryptomonas, Cyclotella meneghiniana, Euglena, Microcystis aeruginosa, biochemical oxygen demand, biomass, chemical oxygen demand, chlorophyll, community structure, environmental factors, lakes, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nutrients, phosphorus, phytoplankton, regression analysis, summer, temperature, winter, China
This study aims at investigating the composition and biomass of the phytoplankton community in 15 urban shallow eutrophic lakes as well as the effects of main environmental factors, including nutrient concentrations and the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus, temperature, COD, BOD, water depth, etc. on the phytoplankton community structure. Lake water samples were taken and analyzed on a bimonthly basis during the period from March 2004 to March 2006. The redundancy analysis (RDA) and regression analysis (RA) were performed to identify the effects of nutrients on the phytoplankton community and biomass in these typical urban lakes. The results indicate that most of these urban lakes were hypertrophic due to high concentrations of total phosphorus (TP) and total nitrogen (TN), with mean levels of 490 and 5380mgm⁻³, respectively. The phytoplankton community was dominated by Microcystis aeruginosa and Euglena caudate in summer and Cryptomonas ovata and Cyclotella meneghiniana in winter. The mean biomass of the phytoplankton reached 456.87mgL⁻¹ in summer months and the annual level was 189.24mgL⁻¹. Temperature and TP content were found to be the principal limiting factors for phytoplankton growth on an annual basis. On the other hand, the results of RDA and RA demonstrate that the dominant phytoplankton species were not nutrient-limited during summer months. Low TN:TP ratios (<10) were detected accompanied with fewer occurrences of N-fixing cyanobacteria and other filamentous algae in most lakes in summer, which implies that low N:P ratio does not always shifts the dominance of phytoplankton community to the N-fixing cyanobacteria. Moreover, TP always had higher correlation with chlorophyll a (Chl-a) than TN, even when the TN:TP ratios of most samples were lower than 10. Therefore, it is concluded that the TN:TP ratio is not always a suitable index to determine whether nitrogen or phosphorus limits the phytoplankton biomass in urban shallow eutrophic lakes.