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Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 515–528 | Cite as

Whole-basin, mass-balance approach for identifying critical phosphorus-loading thresholds in shallow lakes

  • William F. Kenney
  • Thomas J. Whitmore
  • David G. Buck
  • Mark Brenner
  • Jason H. Curtis
  • Jian J. Di
  • Patricia L. Kenney
  • Claire L. Schelske
Original paper

Abstract

Lake Lochloosa, Florida (USA) recently underwent a shift from macrophyte to phytoplankton dominance, offering us the opportunity to use a whole-basin, mass-balance approach to investigate the influence of phosphorus loading on ecosystem change in a shallow, sub-tropical lake. We analyzed total phosphorus (TP) sedimentation in the basin to improve our understanding of the forcing factor responsible for the recent shift to phytoplankton dominance. We measured 210Pb activity, organic matter (OM), organic carbon (OC) and TP in short sediment cores from 20 locations to develop a comprehensive, whole-basin estimate of recent mass sedimentation rates (MSR) for bulk sediment, OM, OC and TP. The whole-basin sedimentation models provided insights into historic lake processes that were not evident from the limited, historic water quality data. We used Akaike’s Information Criteria to differentiate statistically between constant MSR and exponentially increasing MSR. An eightfold, exponential increase in TP accumulation over the past century provided evidence for the critical role of increased P loading as a forcing factor in the recent shift to phytoplankton dominance. Model results show increased TP retention and decreased TP residence time were in-lake responses to increased TP loading and the shift from macrophyte to phytoplankton dominance in Lake Lochloosa. Comparison of TP loading with TP retention and historic, diatom-inferred limnetic TP concentrations identified the TP loading threshold that was exceeded to trigger the shift to phytoplankton dominance.

Keywords

Phosphorus sedimentation Phosphorus loading Phosporus retention Phosphorus residence time Shallow lakes Alternative stable states Phytoplankton dominance Phosphorus loading threshold 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Although the research described in this article was funded, in part, by St. Johns River Water Management District of Florida, it has not been subjected to agency review and therefore does not necessarily reflect the views of the agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The Land Use and Environmental Change Institute at the University of Florida provided funding for this project.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • William F. Kenney
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Whitmore
    • 2
  • David G. Buck
    • 3
  • Mark Brenner
    • 1
    • 4
  • Jason H. Curtis
    • 4
  • Jian J. Di
    • 5
  • Patricia L. Kenney
    • 6
  • Claire L. Schelske
    • 4
  1. 1.Land Use and Environmental Change InstituteUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of South Florida St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgUSA
  3. 3.Biodiversity Research InstituteGorhamUSA
  4. 4.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  5. 5.St. Johns River Water Management DistrictPalatkaUSA
  6. 6.Department of HistoryUniversity of North FloridaJacksonvilleUSA

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