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Seasonal and spatial variation in algal growth potential and growth-limiting nutrients in a shallow endorheic lake: Lake Pátzcuaro (Mexico)

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Abstract

The present research focused on the functional role of the phytoplankton of an economically important endorheic tropical lake from the perspective of algal growth bioassays. The algal growth potential of the lake water was compared for littoral and pelagic sites during the wet and dry seasons. Algal growth potentials at open waters reached minimum and maximum values following the seasonal alternation of dilution (by rain) and concentration (by evaporation) respectively. Conversely, at southern littoral stations high algal growth responses related to the availability of nutrients from point contamination sites. There was no such effect at nearby offshore sites or elsewhere in the lake which suggests filtration and competitive interactions for these nutrients between phytoplankton and littoral macrophytes. Nitrogen and phosphorus both acted consistently as limiting nutrients at open waters by colimitation. Nitrogen to phosphorus ratios seemed to approach equilibrium where limitation easily shifted to one element or the other temporally and spatially.
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Keywords: Pátzcuaro; colimitation; nitrogen; nutrients; phosphorus

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Investigaciones sobre los Recursos Naturales, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, and 2: Limnology Laboratory, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA

Publication date: 2003-06-01

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