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Keywords:

  • lake ecosystem;
  • nutrient profiles;
  • detritus decomposition;
  • exponential model;
  • silicon;
  • phosphorus;
  • nitrogen

Abstract

A study of Rostherne Mere (Cheshire, UK) was undertaken to reveal relationships among various ecosystem components and assess the progress in lake recovery following sewage diversion. An intensive monitoring programme included measurements of dissolved oxygen, T, pH, electric conductivity, K, Mg, Ca, Si, N and P species, Secchi depth, suspended solids, chlorophyll-a, phyto- and zooplankton counts. Recorded changes and the results of correlation analysis broadly confirmed to the classic limnoecological theory and allowed detailed interpretation of the dynamics observed. The Si level was used to estimate the amount of diatom detritus produced in spring. Chemical profiles were used to estimate the amount of nutrients accumulated in the hypolimnion during the stratified period. These estimates were compared with simulations made using the model of exponential decay, which showed a good performance in the case of Si but considerable underestimation in the case of P. The differences between the values simulated by the model and estimates based on field observations resulted from the additional P release from the sediments. This release could have been stimulated by a combination of factors, including the development of anoxic layers on the sediment–water interface and Si-induced desorption from Fe, Al and Mn oxides. Internal P loading during the stratified period was thus estimated at about 4–9 g/m2, suggesting that rapid changes in the lake's trophic status are at present unlikely. Certain aspects of this work (including interpretation of interrelationships between ecosystem components, estimation of the decomposition constant, analysis of factors controlling nutrient accumulation in the hypolimnion, and a low-cost method to estimate internal P release) may be useful for studies of other aquatic systems and have, therefore, general limnological applicability. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.