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


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.


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



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.


  1. Akaike H (1974) A look at the statistical model identification. IEEE Trans Autom Control 19:716–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Appleby PG, Oldield F (1983) The assessment of 210Pb data from sites with varying sediment accumulation rates. Hydrobiologia 103:29–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appleby PG, Nolan PJ, Gifford DW, Godfrey MJ, Oldfield F, Anderson NJ, Battarbee RW (1986) 210Pb dating by low background gamma counting. Hydrobiologia 143:21–27Google Scholar
  4. Binford MW (1990) Calculation and uncertainty of 210Pb dates for PIRLA project sediment cores. J Paleolimnol 3:253–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brenner M, Hodell DA, Leyden BW, Curtis JH, Kenney WF, Gu B, Newman JM (2006) Mechanisms for organic matter and phosphorus burial in sediments of a shallow, subtropical, macrophyte-dominated lake. J Paleolimnol 35:129–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brenner M, Curtis JH, Whitmore TJ, Zimmerman A, Kenney WF, Reidinger-Whitmore M (2009) Sediment accumulation rate and past water quality in Lochloosa Lake. Final report for the St. Johns River Water Management District 278 pGoogle Scholar
  7. Brett MT, Benjamin MM (2008) A review and reassessment of the lake phosphorus retention and nutrient loading concept. Freshw Biol 53:194–211Google Scholar
  8. Brezonik PL, Hendry CD, Edgerton ES, Schulze R, Crisman TL (1983) Acidity, nutrients and minerals in atmospheric precipitation over Florida: deposition patterns, mechanisms and ecological effects. EPA-600/S3-83-004 U.S. EPA Corvallis, OR. NTIS document PB 83-165 837Google Scholar
  9. Canfield DE, Langeland KA, Maceina MJ, Haller WT, Shireman JV, Jones JR (1983) Trophic state classification of lakes with aquatic macrophytes. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 40:1713–1718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Downing JA, Prairie YT, Cole JJ, Duarte CM, Tranvik LJ, Striegel RG, McDowell WH, Kortelainen P, Caraco NF, Melack JM, Middelburg JJ (2006) The global abundance and size distribution of lakes, ponds and impoundments. Limnol Oceanogr 51:2388–2397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Engstrom DR, Schottler SP, Leavitt PR, Havens KE (2006) A reevaluation of the cultural eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee using multiproxy sediment records. Ecol Appl 16:1194–1206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Engstrom DR, Rose NL (2013) A whole-basin, mass-balance approach to paleolimnology. J Paleolimnol 49:333–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fisher MM, Brenner M, Reddy KR (1992) A simple, inexpensive piston corer for collecting undisturbed sediment/water interface profiles. J Paleolimnol 7:157–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fulton RS III, Schulter C, Kelelr TA, Nagid S, Godwin W, Smith D, Clapp D, Karama A, Richmond J (2004) Pollutant load reduction goals for seven major lakes in the upper Ocklawaha river basin. St Johns River Water Management District 125 p.
  15. Fulton RS III, Smith D (2008) Development of phosphorus load reduction goals for seven lakes in the upper Ocklawaha river basin, Florida. Lake Res Manage 24:139–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Glisson JT (1993) The Creek. University of Florida Press, Gainesville 283 pGoogle Scholar
  17. Griffith G, Canfield D, Horsburgh C, Omernik J (1997) Lake regions of Florida. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA/R-97-127, Corvallis, OR. 88 pGoogle Scholar
  18. Heggen MP, Birks HH, Heiri O, Grytnes J-A, Birks HJB (2012) Are fossil assemblages in a single core from a small lake representative of total deposition of mite, chironomid, and plant macrofossil remains? J Paleolimnol 48:669–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huber WC, Brezonik PL, Heany JP, Dickinson RE, Preston SD, Dwornik DS, DeMaio MA (1982) A classification of Florida lakes. Final report to the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, Report ENV-05-82-1, Tallahassee, Florida. v. 1–2 547 pGoogle Scholar
  20. Jeppesen E, Jensen JP, Søndergaard M, Hansen KJ, Møller PH, Rasmussen HU, Norby V, Larsen SE (2003) Does resuspension prevent a shift to a clear state in shallow lakes during reoligotrophication? Limnol Oceanogr 48:1913–1919CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Juggins S (2007) C2 Version 1.5 User Guide. Software for ecological and palaeoecological data analysis and visualisation. Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. 73 pGoogle Scholar
  22. Juggins S (2013) Quantitative reconstructions in paleolimnology: new paradigm or sick science? Quat Sci Rev 64:20–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Juggins S, Anderson NJ, Hobbs JMR, Heathcote AJ (2013) Reconstructing epilimnetic total phosphorus using diatoms: statistical and ecological constraints. J Paleolimnol 49:373–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kenney WF, Schelske CL, Waters MN, Brenner M (2002) Sediment records of phosphorus driven shifts to phytoplankton dominance in shallow Florida Lakes. J Paleolimnol 27:367–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kenney WF, Brenner M, Curtis JH, Schelske CL (2010) Identifying sources of organic matter in sediments of shallow lakes using multiple geochemical variables. J Paleolimnol 44:1039–1052CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lakewatch Florida (1996) Florida Lakewatch Data (1986-1996) Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. University of Florida, GainesvilleGoogle Scholar
  27. Lin Z (2011) Estimating water budgets and vertical leakages for karst lakes in North-central Florida (United States) via hydrological modeling. JAWRA 1–16. doi:  10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00513.x
  28. Oldfield F, Appleby PG (1984) Empirical testing of 210Pb-dating models for lake sediments. In: Haworth EY, Lund WG (eds) Lake sediments and environmental history. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 93–124Google Scholar
  29. Riedinger-Whitmore MA, Whitmore TJ, Brenner M, Moore A, Smoak JM, Curtis JH, Schelske CL (2005) Cyanobacterial proliferation is a recent response to eutrophication in many Florida lakes: a paleolimnological assessment. Lake Res Manage 21:423–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rippey B, Anderson NJ, Renberg I, Korsman T (2008) The accuracy of methods used to estimate the whole-lake accumulation rate of organic carbon, major cations, phosphorus and heavy metals in sediment. J Paleolimnol 39:83–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sayer CD, Burgess A, Kari K, Davidson TA, Peglar S, Handong Y, Rose N (2010) Long-term dynamics of submerged macrophytes and algae in a small and shallow, eutrophic lake: implications for the stability of macrophyte dominance. Freshw Biol 55:565–583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Scheffer M, Carpenter SR (2003) Catastrophic regime shifts in ecosystems: linking theory to observation. Tree 18:648–656Google Scholar
  33. Scheffer M, Hosper SH, Meijer M-L, Moss B, Jeppesen E (1993) Alternative equilibria in shallow lakes. Tree 8:275–279Google Scholar
  34. Schelske CL, Conley DJ, Stoermer EF, Newberry TL, Campbell CD (1986) Biogenic silica and phosphorus accumulation in sediments as indices of eutrophication in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Hydrobiologia 143:79–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schelske CL, Peplow A, Brenner M, Spencer CN (1994) Low-background gamma counting: applications for 210Pb dating of sediments. J Paleolimnol 10:115–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schelske CL, Lowe EF, Kenney WF, Battoe LE, Brenner M, Coveney MF (2010) How anthropogenic darkening of Lake Apopka induced benthic light limitation and forced the shift from macrophyte to phytoplankton dominance. Limnol Oceanogr 55:1201–1212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schottler SP, Engstrom DR (2006) A chronological assessment of Lake Okeechobee (Florida) sediments using multiple dating markers. J Paleolimnol 36:19–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Søndergaard M, Jensen JP, Jeppesen E (2001) Retention and internal loading of phosphorus in shallow, eutrophic lakes. Sci World 1:427–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. ter Braak CJF, Smilauer P (2002) CANOCO reference manual and CanoDraw for Windows user’s guide. Software for canonical community ordination (version 4.5), Microcomputer Power, Ithica, NY, USA. 500 pGoogle Scholar
  40. Verardo DJ, Froelich PN, McIntyre A (1990) Determination of organic carbon and nitrogen in marine sediments using the Carlo Erba NA-1500 Analyzer. Deep Sea Res 37:157–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Whitmore TJ, Brenner M, Schelske CL (1996a) Highly variable sediment distribution in shallow, wind-stressed lakes: a case for sediment mapping surveys in paleolimnological studies. J Paleolimnol 15:207–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Whitmore TJ, Brenner M, Curtis JH, Dahlin BH, Leyden B (1996b) Holocene climatic and human influences on lakes of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: an interdisciplinary, palaeolimnological approach. Holocene 6:273–287Google Scholar
  43. Zimmer KD, Hanson MA, Herwig BR, Konsti ML (2009) Thresholds and stability of alternative regimes in shallow Prairie-Parkland lakes of central North America. Ecosystems 12:843–852Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations