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1 June 2007 Elevated Nutrient Levels from Agriculturally Dominated Watersheds Stimulate Metaphyton Growth
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Abstract

The linkage between land use in a catchment basin and downstream aquatic ecosystems, especially effects on algae attached to substrata or loosely aggregated in the littoral zone, represents a void in our understanding of lake systems. The occurrence of beds of metaphyton at some stream mouths and not others in Conesus Lake, NY (USA) provided an opportunity to consider the relationship between land use and phosphorus and nitrogen losses on the development of shoreline metaphyton blooms. Experiments were performed in the littoral zone of a large temperate lake to test the hypothesis that effluent high in phosphorus and nitrate from tributaries draining agricultural watersheds had a stimulatory effect on the growth of littoral metaphyton, while effluent from a forested watershed did not. The study encompassed six watersheds of varying agricultural use (60–80%) and a forested watershed (12% agriculture). For each experiment, two quadruplicate sets of plexiglass incubation chambers (height = 50 cm, interior diameter = 9.5 cm) containing native assemblages of metaphyton received lake or tributary water continuously over a 3-day lake incubation period. Growth of metaphyton incubated in lake water and in tributary water was compared and differences appeared to be related to nutrient concentrations. A statistically significant stimulatory effect was measured for the six tributaries draining agricultural watersheds but not for the forested watershed. Tributary loadings appear to stimulate metaphyton at sites where the hydrology and hydrodynamincs are suitable. A significant positive linear relationship existed between percent metaphyton cover in the littoral zone and the percent of land use in agriculture. Metaphyton abundance is impacted by land use practices and subsequent loss of nutrients from the catchment.

Joseph C. Makarewicz, Peter E. D'Aiuto, and Isidro Bosch "Elevated Nutrient Levels from Agriculturally Dominated Watersheds Stimulate Metaphyton Growth," Journal of Great Lakes Research 33(2), 437-448, (1 June 2007). https://doi.org/10.3394/0380-1330(2007)33[437:ENLFAD]2.0.CO;2
Received: 26 August 2006; Accepted: 1 February 2007; Published: 1 June 2007
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