Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 4, pp 3297–3311 | Cite as

Assessment of the trophic status of four coastal lagoons and one estuarine delta, eastern Brazil

  • Luiz Carlos Cotovicz Junior
  • Nilva Brandini
  • Bastiaan Adriaan Knoppers
  • Byanka Damian Mizerkowski
  • José Mauro Sterza
  • Alvaro Ramon Coelho Ovalle
  • Paulo Ricardo Petter Medeiros


Anthropogenic eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems continues to be one of the major environmental issues worldwide and also of Brazil. Over the last five decades, several approaches have been proposed to discern the trophic state and the natural and cultural processes involved in eutrophication, including the multi-parameter Assessment of Estuarine Trophic Status (ASSETS) index model. This study applies ASSETS to four Brazilian lagoons (Mundaú, Manguaba, Guarapina, and Piratininga) and one estuarine delta (Paraíba do Sul River), set along the eastern Brazilian coast. The model combines three indices based on the pressure–state–response (PSR) approach to rank the trophic status and forecast the potential eutrophication of a system, to which a final ASSETS grade is established. The lagoons were classified as being eutrophic and highly susceptible to eutrophication, due primarily to their longer residence times but also their high nutrient input index. ASSETS classified the estuary of the Paraíba do Sul river with a low to moderate trophic state (e.g., largely mesotrophic) and low susceptibility to eutrophication. Its nutrient input index was high, but the natural high dilution and flushing potential driven by river flow mitigated the susceptibility to eutrophication. Eutrophication forecasting provided more favorable trends for the Mundaú and Manguaba lagoons and the Paraíba do Sul estuary, in view of the larger investments in wastewater treatment and remediation plans. The final ASSETS ranking system established the lagoons of Mundaú as “moderate,” Manguaba as “bad,” Guarapina as “poor,” and Piratininga as “bad,” whereas the Paraíba do Sul River Estuary was “good.”


Trophic state Eutrophication ASSETS model Estuaries Eastern Brazil 



The authors thank all the students involved in the acquisition of samples and laboratory assistance. Manoel Messias dos Santos of UFAL performed the nutrient analyses for Mundaú–Manguaba and Wilson Machado (UFF) provided valuable criticism and suggestions. L.C. Cotovicz Junior is a Ph.D. Scholar of CNPq and N. Brandini a Post-Doc from CAPES. B. Knoppers is a Senior Researcher from CNPq (Proc. Nr. 301572/2010-0). Funding was obtained from CNPq (POLCAMAR-Project proc. nr. 590002/2005-8 and INCT-TMOcean proc. no. 573601/2008-9). The authors also thank Suzanne B. Bricker and João G. Ferreira for their help in understanding and application of ASSETS. We are highly grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for their time consuming input and valuable remarks.


  1. Agência Nacional de Águas (ANA). (2006a). Plano de Recursos Hídricos da Bacia do Rio Paraíba do Sul. Diagnóstico dos Recursos Hídricos. Accessed 15 Feb 2010.
  2. Agência Nacional de Águas (ANA). (2006b). Plano de ações e gestão integrada do Complexo Estuarino–Lagunar Mundaú–Manguaba. Accessed 21 Apr 2010.
  3. Anderson, D. M., Glibert, P. M., & Burkholder, J. M. (2002). Harmful algal blooms and eutrophication nutrient sources, composition, and consequences. Estuaries, 25(4), 704–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balzer, W., & Knoppers, B. A. (1996). Transport mechanisms of biogeneous material, heavy metals and organic pollutants in east Brazilian waters, large scale investigations. In W. Ekau & B. A. Knoppers (Eds.), Joint Oceanographic Projects (JOPS II). Cruise report and first results. Sedimentation processes and productivity in the continental shelf waters off east and northeast Brazil (pp. 9–14). Bremem: Center for Tropical Marine Ecology.Google Scholar
  5. Beliaeff, B., & Pelletier, D. (2011). A general framework for indicator design and use with application to the assessment of coastal water quality and marine protected area management. Ocean and Coastal Management. doi: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2010.10.037.
  6. Bettencourt, A., Bricker, S. B., Ferreira, J. G., Franco, A., Marques, J. C., Melo, J. J., et al. (2003). Typology and reference conditions for Portuguese transitional and coastal waters. Development of guidelines for the application of the European Union Water Framework Directive. INAG. IMAR. Accessed 02 Mar 2011.
  7. Bitton, C., Hoffman, A., Klingler, M., Schenk, D., & Knoppers, B. A. (1999). A preliminary assessment of land cover and use by Landsat thematic mapping of the Piratininga and Guarapina Lagoon Systems, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. In B. A. Knoppers, E. D. Bidone, & J. J. Abrão (Eds.), Environmental geochemistry of coastal lagoon systems of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (pp. 93–99). Rio de Janeiro: FINEP, UFF, Programa de Geoquímica Ambiental.Google Scholar
  8. Boesch, D. (2002). Challenges and opportunities for science in reducing nutrient over-enrichment of coastal ecosystems. Estuaries, 25, 744–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Borja, A., & Dauer, D. M. (2008). Assessing the environmental quality status in estuarine coastal systems: comparing methodologies and indices. Ecological Indicators. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2007.05.004.
  10. Bricker, S. B., Clement, C. G., Pirhalla, D. E., Orlando, P., & Farrow, D. R. (1999). National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment. Effects of nutrient enrichment in the nation’s estuaries. Silver Spring: NOAA.Google Scholar
  11. Bricker, S. B., Ferreira, J. G., & Simas, T. (2003). An integrated methodology for assessment of estuarine trophic status. Ecological Modelling. doi: 10.1016/S0304-3800(03)00199-6.
  12. Bricker, S. B., Longstaff, B., Dennison, W., Jones, A., Boicourt, K., Wicks, C., et al. (2008). Effects of nutrient enrichment in the nation’s estuaries: a decade of change. Harmful Algae. doi: 10.1016/j.hal.2008.08.028.
  13. Carlson, R. E. (1977). A trophic state index for lakes. Limnology and Oceanography, 22, 361–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carneiro, M. E. R., Azevedo, C., Ramalho, N. M., & Knoppers, B. A. (1994). A biomassa de Chara hornemannii em relação ao comportamento físico-químico da Lagoa de Piratininga, RJ. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 66, 213–222.Google Scholar
  15. Carvalho, C. E. V., & Torres, J. P. M. (2002). The ecohydrology of the Paraíba do Sul River, Southeast Brazil. In M. McClain (Ed.), The ecohydrology of South America rivers and wetlands. Special publication, 6 (pp. 179–191). Venice: IAHS.Google Scholar
  16. Cloern, J. E. (2001). Our evolving conceptual model of the coastal eutrophication problem. Marine Ecology Progress Series. doi: 10.3354/meps210223.
  17. Conley, D. J. (2000). Biogeochemical nutrient cycles and nutrient management strategies. Hydrobiologia, 410, 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Conley, D. J., Paerl, H. W., Howarth, R. W., Boesch, D. F., Seitzinger, S. P., Havens, K. E., et al. (2009). Controlling eutrophication: nitrogen and phosphorus. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.1167755.
  19. Devlin, M., Bricker, S., & Painting, S. (2011). Comparison of five methods for assessing impacts of nutrient enrichment using estuarine case studies. Biogeochemistry. doi: 10.1007/s10533-011-9588-9.
  20. Elser, J., Bracken, M. E., Cleland, E. E., Gruner, D. S., Harpole, S., Hillebrand, H., et al. (2007). Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01113.x.
  21. Ferreira, J. G., Wolff, W. J., Simas, T. C., & Bricker, S. (2005). Does biodiversity of estuarine phytoplankton depend on hydrology? Ecological Modelling. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2005.03.013.
  22. Ferreira, J. G., Bricker, S. B., & Simas, T. C. (2007). Application and sensitivity testing of an eutrophication assessment method on coastal systems in the United States and European Union. Journal of Environmental Management. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2006.01.003.
  23. Ferreira, J. G., Andersen, J. H., Borja, A., Bricker, S., Camp, J., Cardoso da Silva, M., et al. (2011). Overview of eutrophication indicators to assess environmental status within the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2011.03.014.
  24. Fundação Estadual de Engenharia do Meio Ambiente (FEEMA). (1987). Qualidade das águas do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Ser. Técnica II.Google Scholar
  25. Glibert, P. M., Allen, J. I., Bouwman, A. F., Brown, C. W., Flynn, K. J., Lewitus, A. J., et al. (2010). Modeling of HABs and eutrophication: status, advances, challenges. Journal of Marine Systems. doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2010.05.004.
  26. Golterman, H. L., & Oude, N. T. (1991). Eutrophication of lakes, rivers and coastal seas. In O. Hutzinger (Ed.), The handbook of environmental chemistry (Vol. 5(a)). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Grasshof, K., Ehrhardt, M., & Kremling, K. (1983). Methods of seawater analysis. Weinheim: Verlag Chemie.Google Scholar
  28. Howarth, R. W., & Marino, R. (2006). Nitrogen as the limiting nutrient for eutrophication in coastal marine ecosystems: evolving views over three decades. Limnology and Oceanography, 51, 364–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE). (2008). Pesquisa Nacional de Saneamento Básico. Accessed 10 Jun 2011.
  30. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE). (2010). Censo Demográfico. Accessed 07 May 2011.
  31. Izzo, G., Silvestri, C., Creo, C., & Signorini, A. (1997). Is nitrate an oligotrophic factor in Venice lagoon? Marine Chemistry. doi: 10.1016/S0304-4203(97)00051-0.
  32. Jennerjahn, T. C., Knoppers, B. A., Souza, W. F. L., Carvalho, C. E. V., Mollenhauer, G., Huebner, M., et al. (2010). The tropical Brazilian margin. In K. K. Liu, L. Atkinson, R. Quinones, & T. McManus (Eds.), Carbon and nutrient fluxes in continental margins. A global synthesis. Global change. The IGBP series (pp. 427–442). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  33. Knoppers, B. A., & Kjerfve, B. (1999). Coastal lagoons of southeastern Brazil: physical and biogeochemical characteristics. In G. Perillo, C. Piccolo, & M. Pino-Quivira (Eds.), Estuaries of South America (pp. 1–223). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  34. Knoppers, B. A., Kjerfve, B., & Carmouze, J. P. (1991). Trophic state and water turn-over time in six choked coastal lagoons in Brazil. Biogeochemistry. doi: 10.1007/BF00002903.
  35. Knoppers, B. A., Carmouze, J. P., & Moreira-Turcqo, P. F. (1999). Nutrient dynamics, metabolism and eutrophication of lagoons along the east Fluminense coast, state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In B. A. Knoppers, E. D. Bidone, & J. J. Abrão (Eds.), Environmental geochemistry of coastal lagoon systems of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (pp. 123–154). Rio de Janeiro: FINEP, UFF, Programa de Geoquímica Ambiental.Google Scholar
  36. Lacerda, L. D., Molisani, M. M., Sena, D., & Maia, L. P. (2008). Estimating the importance of natural and anthropogenic sources on N and P emission to estuaries along the Ceara State Coast NE Brazil. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. doi: 10.1007/s10661-007-9884-y.
  37. Lambou, V. W., Taylor, W. D., Hern, S. C., & Williams, L. P. (1983). Comparisons of trophic state measurements. Water Research. doi: 10.1016/0043-1354(83)90020-9.
  38. Likens, G. E. (1972). Eutrophication and aquatic ecosystems. In G. E. Likens (Ed.), Nutrients and eutrophication: the limiting-nutrient controversy. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, special symposia (pp. 3–13). Lawrence: Allen.Google Scholar
  39. Machado, E. C., & Knoppers, B. A. (1988). Sediment oxygen consumption in an organic rich subtropical lagoon, Brazil. The Science of the Total Environment. doi: 10.1016/0048-9697(88)90045-9.
  40. Melo-Magalhães, E. M., Medeiros, P. R. P., Lira, M. C. A., Koening, M. L., & Moura, A. N. (2008). Determination of eutrophic areas in Mundaú/Manguaba lagoons, Alagoas-Brazil, through studies of the phytoplanktonic community. Brazilian Journal of Biology, 69(2), 271–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meybeck, M., & Helmer, R. (1989). The quality of rivers: from pristine to global pollution. Global and Planetary Change. doi: 10.1016/0921-8181(89)90007-6.
  42. Meybeck, M., Chapman, D. V., & Helmer, R. (1989). Global freshwater quality: a first assessment. Oxford: WHO/UNEP.Google Scholar
  43. Mizerkowki, B. D. (2011). Assessment of the estuarine waters of the state of Paraná (Southern Brazil): descriptive approach, trophic status and monitoring techniques. Accessed 03 Nov 2011.
  44. Nixon, S. W. (1995). Coastal marine eutrophication: a definition, social causes, and future concerns. Ophelia, 41, 199–219.Google Scholar
  45. Nobre, A. M., Ferreira, J. G., Newton, A., Simas, T. C., Icely, J. D., & Neves, R. (2005). Managing eutrophication: integration of field data, ecosystem scale simulations and screening models. Journal of Marine Systems. doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2005.03.003.
  46. Oliveira, A. M., & Kjerfve, B. (1993). Environmental responses of a tropical coastal lagoons system to hydrological variability: Mundaú–Manguaba, Brazil. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. doi: 10.1006/ecss.1993.1074.
  47. Paerl, H. W. (2009). Controlling eutrophication along the freshwater–marine continuum: dual nutrient (N and P) reductions are essential. Estuaries and Coasts. doi: 10.1007/s12237-009-9158-8.
  48. Primpas, I., & Karydis, M. (2010). Improving statistical distinctness in assessing trophic levels: the development of simulated normal distributions. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. doi: 10.1007/s10661-009-1177-1.
  49. Scavia, D., & Bricker, S. B. (2006). Coastal eutrophication assessment in the United States. Biogeochemistry. doi: 10.1007/s10533-006-9011-0.
  50. Sharp, J. H. (2010). Estuarine oxygen dynamics: what can we learn about hypoxia from long-time records in the Delaware Estuary? Limnology and Oceanography, 55(2), 535–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sterza, J. M., & Fernandes, L. F. (2006). Distribution and abundance of Cladocera (Branchiopoda) in the Paraíba do Sul River Estuary, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazilian Journal of Oceanography, 54(4), 193–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Strickland, J. D. H., & Parsons, T. R. (1972). A practical handbook of seawater analysis. Ottawa: Fisheries Research Board of Canada.Google Scholar
  53. Vollenweider, R. A., Marchetti, R., & Viviani, R. (1992). Marine coastal eutrophication. The response of marine transitional systems to human impact: problems and perspectives for restoration. London: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  54. Wasserman, J., Cunha, L. C., Carneiro, M. E., & Knoppers, B. A. (1999). The impact of a canal lock upon the water balance and the trophic state of Piratininga Lagoon, state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In B. A. Knoppers, E. D. Bidone, & J. J. Abrão (Eds.), Environmental geochemistry of coastal lagoon systems of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (pp. 169–177). Rio de Janeiro: FINEP, UFF, Programa de Geoquímica Ambiental.Google Scholar
  55. Whitall, D., Bricker, S., Ferreira, J. G., Nobre, A. M., Simas, T., & Silva, M. (2007). Assessment of eutrophication in estuaries: pressure–state–response and nitrogen source apportionment. Environmental Management. doi: 10.1007/s00267-005-0344-6.
  56. Xiao, Y., Ferreira, J. G., Bricker, S. B., Nunes, J. P., Zhu, M., & Zhang, X. (2007). Trophic assessment in Chinese coastal systems review of methodologies and application to the Changjiang (Yangtze) Estuary and Jiaozhou Bay. Estuaries and Coasts. doi: 1007/BF02841384.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luiz Carlos Cotovicz Junior
    • 1
  • Nilva Brandini
    • 1
  • Bastiaan Adriaan Knoppers
    • 1
  • Byanka Damian Mizerkowski
    • 2
  • José Mauro Sterza
    • 3
  • Alvaro Ramon Coelho Ovalle
    • 3
  • Paulo Ricardo Petter Medeiros
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Geoquímica, Instituto de QuímicaUniversidade Federal Fluminense (UFF)NiteróiBrazil
  2. 2.Centro de Estudos do Mar (CEM)Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR)Pontal do SulBrazil
  3. 3.Centro de Biociências e BiotecnologiaUniversidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense (UENF)Campo dos GoytacazesBrazil
  4. 4.Departamento de Geografia e Meio Ambiente, Centro de Ciências Exatas e NaturaisUniversidade Federal de Alagoas (UFAL)MaceióBrazil

Personalised recommendations