Importance of diffuse nutrient loading and lake level changes to the eutrophication of an originally oligotrophic boreal lake: a palaeolimnological diatom and chironomid analysis

Excellent article worth reading. Click here to learn more or an excerpt below. May be able to get the full article through your local library.


The recent environmental history of Lake Lappajärvi in western Finland (63°00′ N, 23°30′ E, area 149 km2), a humic, brown water lake with an average phosphorus content of ca. 20 μg l–1, was studied from short core sediment samples taken from the two main basins of the lake. Based on the stratigraphy of diatoms and chironomids and the sediment quality it was possible to distinguish four developmental stages during the past century: (1) a pre-industrial stage covering the time up to about 1935; (2) a stage of increasing nutrient loading (ca. 1936–1960); (3) a stage of pronounced erosion from lake level regulation and extensive ditching of the catchment area (ca. 1960–1970); and (4) a meso-eutrophic stage from ca. 1970 onwards. Acidophilous Aulacoseira distans coll. and other species typical of dystrophic, nutrient-poor lakes characterized the diatom assemblages during the first stage, and the profundal zoobenthic assemblages, characterized by Heterotrissocladius subpilosus and Micropsectra, indicated good hypolimnetic oxygen conditions and a low sedimentation of organic matter (approx. less than 50 g m–2 a–1). The increased loading rapidly led to changes both in diatoms and chironomids (e.g., to an early extinction of H. subpilosus in the 1950s). The process finally led to eutrophication with a successive proliferation of diatom species such as Asterionella formosa followed by Aulacoseira ambigua, Fragilaria crotonensis, and finally Melosira varians. The relative proportion of alkaliphilous species reached a maximum in the final stage and the original profundal chironomid fauna was replaced by Chironomus anthracinus gr. and C. plumosus which are typical of profundal areas suffering from temporal oxygen deficit. It is notable that the considerable decrease in waste water loading from the point sources (80–86% ) during the past two decades has not led to a recovery in the lake. This highlights the importance of diffuse loading from agriculture, forestry and other human activities even to this comparatively large lake.



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