Nutrient status of phytoplankton across a trophic gradient in Lake Erie: evidence from new fluorescence methods

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Variable fluorescence of chlorophyll a was measured by pulse amplitude modulated fluorometry to determine its relationship with measures of nutrient status and phytoplankton community structure in Lake Erie. In 2005, nitrogen (N) deficiency was most common in May, phosphorus (P) deficiency was most common in June, and neither were common in September. The maximum quantum yield (F v/F m) measured by pulse amplitude modulated fluorometry was lower in May and June than in September. The observed range of F v/F m included many values lower than previously reported in the lower Laurentian Great Lakes, while F v/F m values showed strong inverse correlations with indicators of N and (or) P deficiency. Community structure was also associated with nutrient status. Cyanobacteria were common at sites displaying N deficiency, while flagellates dominated P-deficient sites in all basins. N deficiency is surprising in a lake with generally high nitrate levels, but was supported by N debt, particulate C:N ratios and depressed F v/F m. Further work to characterize and compare results obtained with different variable fluorescence methodologies is desirable, but the present results support the belief that F v/F m can characterize nutrient deficiency of phytoplankton community in this large lake.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada.

Publication date: January 5, 2012

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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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