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Warmer climates boost cyanobacterial dominance in shallow lakes

Authors

  • Sarian Kosten,

    1. Aquatic Ecology & Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
    2. Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Berlin/Neuglobsow, Germany
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  • Vera L. M. Huszar,

    Corresponding author
    • Laboratório de Ficologia, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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  • Eloy Bécares,

    1. Department of Ecology, Department of Biodiversity and Environmental Management, University of León, León, Spain
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  • Luciana S. Costa,

    1. Laboratório de Ficologia, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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  • Ellen van Donk,

    1. Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), AC Nieuwersluis, The Netherlands
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  • Lars-Anders Hansson,

    1. Institute of Ecology/Limnology, Ecology Building, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
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  • Erik Jeppesen,

    1. Department of Freshwater Ecology, National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Silkeborg, Denmark
    2. Greenland Climate Research Centre (GCRC), Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Nuuk, Greenland
    3. Sino-Danish Research Centre, Beijing, China
    4. Center for Limnology, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia
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  • Carla Kruk,

    1. Limnology Section, Institute of Environmental Sciences and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, PC, Uruguay
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  • Gissell Lacerot,

    1. Limnology Section, Institute of Environmental Sciences and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, PC, Uruguay
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  • Néstor Mazzeo,

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolution, CURE-Faculty of Sciences, Universidad de la República, Maldonado, Uruguay
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  • Luc De Meester,

    1. Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
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  • Brian Moss,

    1. School of Environmental Sciences, Nicholson Building, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
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  • Miquel Lürling,

    1. Aquatic Ecology & Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
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  • Tiina Nõges,

    1. Institute for Environment and Sustainability, EC Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
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  • Susana Romo,

    1. Departamento Ecología, Facultad Biología, Universitat Valencia, Burjasot, Valencia, Spain
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  • Marten Scheffer

    1. Aquatic Ecology & Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
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  • S. K. and V. L. M. H. contributed equally to this paper.

Vera L. M. Huszar, tel.(5521) 25626957, fax (5521) 25792769, e-mail: vhuszar@gbl.com.br

Abstract

Dominance by cyanobacteria hampers human use of lakes and reservoirs worldwide. Previous studies indicate that excessive nutrient loading and warmer conditions promote dominance by cyanobacteria, but evidence from global scale field data has so far been scarce. Our analysis, based on a study of 143 lakes along a latitudinal transect ranging from subarctic Europe to southern South America, shows that although warmer climates do not result in higher overall phytoplankton biomass, the percentage of the total phytoplankton biovolume attributable to cyanobacteria increases steeply with temperature. Our results also reveal that the percent cyanobacteria is greater in lakes with high rates of light absorption. This points to a positive feedback because restriction of light availability is often a consequence of high phytoplankton biovolume, which in turn may be driven by nutrient loading. Our results indicate a synergistic effect of nutrients and climate. The implications are that in a future warmer climate, nutrient concentrations may have to be reduced substantially from present values in many lakes if cyanobacterial dominance is to be controlled.

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