1. We propose that the appearance and establishment of Nostocales (cyanobacteria) species of the genera Aphanizomenon and Cylindrospermopsis in the warm subtropical Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee, Israel) from 1994 was linked to changes in climate conditions and summer nitrogen (N) availability.
2. From 1994 to 2009, an increase in frequency of events of elevated water temperature (>29 °C) in summer, and to some extent a greater frequency of lower summer wind speed events, affected water turbulence and water column stratification, thus providing better physical conditions for the establishment of these populations.
3. In recent years, N-depleted conditions in Lake Kinneret in early summer have promoted the development and domination of Nostocales that could gain an ecological advantage owing to their N2-fixing capability.
4. Nitrogen fixation rates coincided both with heterocyst abundance and with Nostocales biomass. The N supplied to the lake via nitrogen fixation ranged from negligible quantities when Nostocales represented only a minor component of the phytoplankton community to 123 tonnes when Cylindrospermopsis bloomed in 2005. This high N2 fixation rate equals the average summer dissolved inorganic nitrogen load to the lake via the Jordan River.