, Volume 655, Issue 1, pp 109–119 | Cite as

A mass balance evaluation of the ecological significance of historical nitrogen fluxes in Lake Kinneret

Primary research paper


Lake Kinneret (LK) is a monomictic lake that has undergone significant biological and chemical changes over the last three decades of the twentieth century. The transition between the 1970s and the 1980s attracted a lot of scientific attention as it was marked by significant changes in the ecology of the lake. In the early 1980s, phytoplankton biomass increased, apparently in response to an increase in the external soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) load. This period was marked by a rise in hypolimnetic levels of ammonium (NH4) and SRP as well as surface water dissolved oxygen (DO) and pH. Cconcomitantly, in surface waters in winter levels of NH4 increased and NO3 decreased. In this study interrelationships amongst these observations were examined with a mass balance modelling approach, including simulation of individual nutrient sources and sinks, focusing on nitrogen fluxes in winter. The step-like rise in phytoplankton biomass in 1981 may have been triggered by the increase in winter external loads of SRP, as P is likely to be the growth-limiting nutrient during this season. The additional P load led to a sequence of changes including greater summer phytoplankton biomass, followed by enhanced sedimentation of organic matter. Furthermore, higher organic matter mineralization fluxes within the hypolimnion resulted in elevated levels of NH4 and SRP in this layer through the 1980s, with a feedback to productivity in the trophogenic zone following seasonal destratification in early winter. In an apparent transition period (late 1970s to early 1980s), an increase in the modelled rate of nitrate (NO3) production occurred via nitrification together with increased uptake of the additional nitrate by phytoplankton. These results are consistent with increased phytoplankton abundance and elevated levels of surface water NH4 and DO during this period. Through this period the increase in phytoplankton uptake of NO3 predominated over the increase in nitrification, and NO3 concentrations in the 1980s were reduced compared with the previous decade, with increased partitioning of N in biomass and NH4.


Nitrate Ammonium Nitrification Denitrification Long-term data series 



This work benefited from the authors participation in the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Israel Oceanographic & Limnological ResearchThe Yigal Allon Kinneret Limnological LaboratoryMigdalIsrael
  2. 2.Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology ResearchUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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