, Volume 710, Issue 1, pp 173–187 | Cite as

Contrasting roles of water chemistry, lake morphology, land-use, climate and spatial processes in driving phytoplankton richness in the Danish landscape

  • Korhan Özkan
  • Erik Jeppesen
  • Martin Søndergaard
  • Torben L. Lauridsen
  • Lone Liboriussen
  • Jens-Christian Svenning


Understanding of the forces driving the structure of biotic communities has long been an important focus for ecology, with implications for applied and conservation science. To elucidate the factors driving phytoplankton genus richness in the Danish landscape, we analyzed data derived from late-summer samplings in 195 Danish lakes and ponds in a spatially-explicit framework. To account for the uneven sampling of lakes in the monitoring data, we performed 1,000 permutations. A random set of 131 lakes was assembled and a single sample was selected randomly for each lake at each draw and all the analyses were performed on permuted data 1,000 times. The local environment was described by lake water chemistry, lake morphology, land-use in lake catchments, and climate. Analysis of the effects of four groups of environmental factors on the richness of the main groups of phytoplankton revealed contrasting patterns. Lake water chemistry was the strongest predictor of phytoplankton richness for all groups, while lake morphology also had a strong influence on Bacillariophyceae, Cyanobacteria, Dinophyceae, and Euglenophyceae richness. Climate and land-use in catchments contributed only little to the explained variation in phytoplankton richness, although both factors had a significant effect on Bacillariophyceae richness. Notably, total nitrogen played a more important role for phytoplankton richness than total phosphorus. Overall, models accounted for ca. 30% of the variation in genus richness for all phytoplankton combined as well as the main groups separately. Local spatial structure (<30 km) in phytoplankton richness suggested that connectivity among lakes and catchment-scale processes might also influence phytoplankton richness in Danish lakes.


Freshwater algae Metacommunity structure Nitrogen concentration Shallow lakes Spatial structure 



We greatly acknowledge the great work of a large number of experts who participated in the counting of samples and fieldwork during 20 years of monitoring. We thank Anders Nielsen for his help with landscape data; Thomas Davidson, Liselotte Sander Johansson, and Rikke Bjerring Hansen for helpful discussions and Anne Mette Poulsen for linguistic corrections. This project was supported by the Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation, the EU projects WISER and REFRESH, CLEAR (a Villum Kann Rasmussen Centre of Excellence Project), the STF project CRES and the Greenland Climate Research Centre.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Korhan Özkan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Erik Jeppesen
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Martin Søndergaard
    • 1
  • Torben L. Lauridsen
    • 1
  • Lone Liboriussen
    • 1
  • Jens-Christian Svenning
    • 2
  1. 1.Freshwater Ecology Group, Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversitySilkeborgDenmark
  2. 2.Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity Group, Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  3. 3.Greenland Climate Research CentreGreenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland
  4. 4.Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research (SDC)BeijingChina

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