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The effects of water retention time and watershed features on the limnology of two tropical reservoirs in Brazil

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Although reservoirs are similar to natural lakes in many respects, such driving forces as water retention time and watershed features can play important roles in the limnology of manmade lakes. With the goal of investigating how these factors influence the limnology of tropical reservoirs, physical and chemical variables were measured at four sampling sites in two reservoirs in southern Brazil, from June 2002 to June 2003. Funil Reservoir is located in one of the most-populated areas in the country, in the Paraíba do Sul river basin, which drains and drastically influences the water quality of the reservoir. In contrast, Lajes Reservoir is located in a well-preserved area, with its water retention time varying from six to 30 times longer than for Funil Reservoir. Funil Reservoir is a turbid (median euphotic zone = 4.3 m), eutrophic reservoir (median total phosphorus (TP) = 3.1 µm), with a high phytoplankton biomass (median chlorophyll-a concentration = 10.0 µg L−1). In contrast, Lajes Reservoir is a transparent (median euphotic zone = 9.2 m), mesotrophic water system (median TP = 1.0 µm), with a low phytoplankton biomass (median chlorophyll-a = 1.9 µg L−1). Both reservoirs were stratified during the summer months, but isothermy was only observed in Funil Reservoir. Because of its short water retention time, Funil Reservoir is a much more dynamic system than Lajes Reservoir, with a pronounced temporal pattern related to changes in its water column and its phytoplankton biomass. Spatial heterogeneity is more evident in Lajes Reservoir, mainly as a consequence of its location in a preserved area, long water retention time and the presence of net cages for fish culture in the waterbody. The typical spatial zonation found in reservoirs, related to nutrient sedimentation and light availability, however, is more evident in Funil Reservoir than in Lajes Reservoir. Despite the similarities between these two water systems, which are in the same geographical region with similar climate, and are comparable in size, the distinct watershed features and water retention time are responsible for marked differences between these reservoirs.

Keywords: eutrophication; manmade lakes; seasonal variability; spatial heterogeneity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Laboratório de Taxonomia e Ecologia de Algas, IBRAG, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rua São Francisco Xavier Nο. 524, PHLC, Sala 551, Maracanã, 20550-900 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil 2: Laboratório de Ficologia, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Quinta da Boa Vista, São Cristóvão, 20940-040 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil 3: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Avenida Pasteur 458, Urca, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, and 4: Laboratório de Ecofisiologia e Toxicologia de Cianobactérias, IBCCF, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, CCS Bloco G, Ilha do Fundão, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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