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Phytoplankton productivity across prairie saline lakes of the Great Plains (USA): a step toward deciphering patterns through lake classification models

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We investigated patterns of primary production across prairie saline lakes in the central and northern Great Plains of the United States. Based on comparative lake sampling in 2004, seasonal predictors of algal primary productivity were identified within subsets of similar lakes using a combination of Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) and classification and regression trees (CART). These models indicated complex patterns of nutrient limitation by nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and iron (Fe) within different lake groups. Nutrient enrichment assays (control,+ Fe,+ N,+ P,+ N + P) were performed in spring and summer of 2006 to determine if phytoplankton in selected lakes followed predicted patterns of nutrient limitation. Both the comparative lake sampling and experimental results indicated that N limitation was widespread in these prairie lakes, with evidence for secondary P limitation in certain lakes. In the experiments, iron did not stimulate primary production. Our results suggest that given the diverse geochemical nature of these lakes, classification models that separate saline lakes into subsets may be an effective method for improving predictions of algal production.

Nous avons étudié les patrons de production primaire dans des lacs salés de prairie répartis dans le centre et le nord des Grandes Plaines des États-Unis. À partir d’un échantillonnage comparatif des lacs en 2004, nous avons identifié les variables prédictives saisonnières de la production primaire des algues dans des sous-ensembles de lacs en utilisant conjointement le critère d’information d’Akaike (AIC) et des arbres de classification et de régression (CART). Ces modèles identifient des patrons complexes de limitation par les nutriments d’azote (N), de phosphore (P) et de fer (Fe) dans les différents groupes de lacs. Nous avons fait des tests d’enrichissement de nutriments (témoin, + Fe, + N, + P, + N + P) au printemps et à l’été 2006 afin de déterminer si le phytoplancton dans les lacs sélectionnés suivait les patrons prédits de limitation par les nutriments. Tant l’échantillonnage comparatif des lacs que les résultats expérimentaux indiquent que la limitation par N est commune dans ces lacs de prairie, avec des indications d’une limitation secondaire par P dans certains lacs. Dans les expériences, le fer ne stimule pas la production primaire. Nos résultats indiquent qu’étant donné la nature géochimique diverse de ces lacs, les modèles de classification qui séparent les lacs salés en sous-ensembles peuvent être des méthodes efficaces pour améliorer les prédictions de production des algues.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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