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1 December 2005 Eutrophication: An Ecological Vision
Fareed A. Khan, Abid Ali Ansari
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The present review deals with the studies conducted on the impact of phosphorus on growth of aquatic plants causing eutrophication in well-known water bodies the world over. The review covers the definition and concept of eutrophication and the adverse effects on quality and ecosystem functioning. The eutrophication of several water bodies leads to significant changes in the structure and function of the aquatic ecosystem. Several activities of human interest, including navigation and power generation, are hampered. A large number of lakes in the United States, Europe, and Asia have recently been found to be highly eutrophic. Water, the precious fluid, is not uniformly distributed throughout the surface of the earth. Most of the water bodies world over are surrounded with densely populated human settlement areas and agricultural fields. The size of smaller water bodies in human settlement areas is on the decrease with rise in population. After treatment, a large quantity of sewage from the households is regularly discharged into the water bodies. The runoff brings down fertilizers and other chemicals from agricultural fields. The phosphorus contained in these effluents is known to promote excessive growth of plants. This review is an account of the role, sources, and monitoring of phosphorus, as well as its cycle. The natural phosphorus cycle originating from the weathering of phosphate rock is now a two-way operation, due to significant addition of phosphorus from anthropogenic sources.

The detergents that are the major source of phosphorus inputs into water bodies (through sewage and drainage systems) have been thoroughly discussed. The major part of detergents comprises builders containing polyphosphate salts. An environment-friendly and effective synthetic builder is yet to be developed to replace existing phosphorus containing builders of detergents. The utility of the alternative builders available has been reviewed. Nitrogen has also been reported to affect the phytoplankton production in eutrophic waters in temperate regions. Several environmental factors have also been found to add to the problem of eutrophication in addition to nutrients. Several limiting factors—namely, CO2 level, temperature, pH, light, and dissolved oxygen—are known to affect eutrophic water bodies. Eutrophication not only results in algal bloom but also affects wetland plants and activates early onset of natural succession at a relatively faster rate. Some of the plant species reported and studied world over are the best indicators of the level of eutrophication. The studies on the change in structure, function, and diversity of the ecosystem have been used as parameters to assess the level of eutrophication. In several countries adequate control measures have been adopted in to control eutrophication. But these measures were found to be only partially effective in controlling the phosphorus unloading in water bodies. In this review some control measures are suggested, with emphasis on biological control. The review concludes by taking into account the ecological prospective of the water—the precious fluid and a basis of life on the earth.

Fareed A. Khan and Abid Ali Ansari "Eutrophication: An Ecological Vision," The Botanical Review 71(4), 449-482, (1 December 2005).[0449:EAEV]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 December 2005

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