, Volume 584, Issue 1, pp 37–48 | Cite as

Sediment phosphorus cycling in a large shallow lake: spatio-temporal variation in phosphorus pools and release

  • Bryan M. Spears
  • Laurence Carvalho
  • Rupert Perkins
  • Alex Kirika
  • David M. Paterson
Shallow Lakes


Sediment and water column phosphorus fractions were recorded monthly for one year (April 2004–April 2005) in a shallow lake recovering from nutrient pollution (Loch Leven, Scotland). Equilibrium phosphate concentration (EPC0) and gross sediment phosphorus (P) release rates were estimated from laboratory experiments. Pore water and organic P pools were lowest during warm water periods whereas bottom water P was lowest during cold water periods. Reductant-soluble, organic, metal oxide-adsorbed, residual and sediment total phosphorus pools all varied significantly with overlying water depth. Short-term, high magnitude, redox initiated P release events occurred in late summer and winter as a result of anoxic sediment conditions. Lower magnitude long-term release conditions were maintained for most of the year, most likely as a result of organic P cycling and maintenance of high concentration gradients between the pore and bottom water P pools. Estimates of summer P uptake/release rates, across an intact sediment-water interface, suggested that maximum gross internal release was ~12 mg SRP m−2 lake surface area d−1 with EPC0 values ranging between 180 and 270 μg P L−1. This study highlights the biological mediation of internal loading in shallow eutrophic lakes, and in particular, the role of sediment algae in decreasing, and sediment bacteria in enhancing, sediment P release.


Sediment Phosphorus Mobility Bio-regulation Seasonality 



We gratefully acknowledge the logistical assistance provided by the staff at the Loch Leven Fishery. We also wish to acknowledge Bernie Dudley for graciously ensuring the quality of our arithmetic. BMS was funded by NERC (NER/S/A/2003/11324).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryan M. Spears
    • 1
    • 3
  • Laurence Carvalho
    • 1
  • Rupert Perkins
    • 2
  • Alex Kirika
    • 1
  • David M. Paterson
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology and Hydrology EdinburghPenicuikScotland, UK
  2. 2.School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffWales, UK
  3. 3.Sediment Ecology Research Group, Gatty Marine LaboratoryUniversity of St. AndrewsFifeScotland, UK

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