Phytoplankton Ecology Along the Egyptian Northern Lakes: Status, Pressures and Impacts

  • Mostafa El-SheekhEmail author
  • Elham Ali
  • Hala El-Kassas
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 71)


The northern lakes, particularly the delta ones (Manzala, Burullus, Edku and Mariout), were among the richest and most diverse ecosystems in Egypt 40 years ago. They are the important natural resource of fish production in Egypt. Besides, they are internationally important sites for the migrating birds, providing them with the suitable habitat. Water discharges into the lakes are mainly agricultural drainage water (containing pesticides, fertilizers) and effluents of industrial activities and runoffs. In addition, sewage effluents supply the lake water body and sediment with huge quantities of inorganic anions (such as phosphates, nitrates and ammonia), combined organic nitrogen and heavy metals. Such nutrient enrichment to the lakes’ ecosystem is mostly followed by alterations in phytoplankton community structure. The phytoplankton represents the main group of primary producers and hence is considered as the main food source for fish in these lakes. In addition to the four mentioned delta lakes, Lake Bardawil is located North Sinai, and it is a saline lake which is considered one of the most important lakes in North Egypt. Lake Bardawil environment differs from that of the other Mediterranean Egyptian lakes in terms of climatic factors, geomorphology and salinity. The northern lakes provide a rich and vital habitat for estuarine and have always been major areas of fish production in Egypt, where they contribute to the economy of Egypt. The alteration in environmental conditions together with other human-induced pressures and interferences has played an important role in lake deterioration and water quality and accelerates all the biological productivity along the lakes. In nature, thousands of years are required for oligotrophic water body to become an eutrophic one. Water quality of the northern lakes is largely influencing phytoplankton growth, the structure of their community and the trend of species succession. Therefore, the pattern processes and dynamics of phytoplankton community assembly along the five lakes should be studied in order to understand the status of the water quality of the lakes. For example, Lake Edku was classified among the oligotrophic lakes several years ago because it receives huge amounts of drainage water; however, it is currently described as eutrophic lake with a tendency to hypertrophy. In this chapter, we discuss the phytoplankton ecology along the Egyptian northern lakes with special reference to status, pressures and impacts.


Biodiversity Biological indicators Egyptian northern lakes Phytoplankton Water quality 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany, Faculty of ScienceTanta UniversityTantaEgypt
  2. 2.Division of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of SciencesSuez UniversitySuezEgypt
  3. 3.Department of HydrobiologyNational Institute of Oceanography and FisheriesAlexandriaEgypt

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