Phytoplankton community responses in a shallow lake following lanthanum-bentonite application

Lang, P.; Meis, S.; Procházková, L.; Carvalho, L.; Mackay, E.B.; Woods, H.J.; Pottie, J.; Milne, I.; Taylor, C.; Maberly, S.C.; Spears, B.M.. 2016 Phytoplankton community responses in a shallow lake following lanthanum-bentonite application [in special issue: Geo-engineering to manage eutrophication in lakes] Water Research, 97. 55-68.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N513723PP.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (3MB) | Preview


The release of phosphorus (P) from bed sediments to the overlying water can delay the recovery of lakes for decades following reductions in catchment contributions, preventing water quality targets being met within timeframes set out by environmental legislation (e.g. EU Water Framework Directive: WFD). Therefore supplementary solutions for restoring lakes have been explored, including the capping of sediment P sources using a lanthanum (La)-modified bentonite clay to reduce internal P loading and enhance the recovery process. Here we present results from Loch Flemington where the first long-term field trial documenting responses of phytoplankton community structure and abundance, and the UK WFD phytoplankton metric to a La-bentonite application was performed. A Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) analysis was used to distinguish natural variability from treatment effect and confirmed significant reductions in the magnitude of summer cyanobacterial blooms in Loch Flemington, relative to the control site, following La-bentonite application. However this initial cyanobacterial response was not sustained beyond two years after application, which implied that the reduction in internal P loading was short-lived; several possible explanations for this are discussed. One reason is that this ecological quality indicator is sensitive to inter-annual variability in weather patterns, particularly summer rainfall and water temperature. Over the monitoring period, the phytoplankton community structure of Loch Flemington became less dominated by cyanobacteria and more functionally diverse. This resulted in continual improvements in the phytoplankton compositional and abundance metrics, which were not observed at the control site, and may suggest an ecological response to the sustained reduction in filterable reactive phosphorus (FRP) concentration following La-bentonite application. Overall, phytoplankton classification indicated that the lake moved from poor to moderate ecological status but did not reach the proxy water quality target (i.e. WFD Good Ecological Status) within four years of the application. As for many other shallow lakes, the effective control of internal P loading in Loch Flemington will require further implementation of both in-lake and catchment-based measures. Our work emphasizes the need for appropriate experimental design and long-term monitoring programmes, to ascertain the efficacy of intervention measures in delivering environmental improvements at the field scale.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Parr
ISSN: 0043-1354
Additional Keywords: lanthanum-modified bentonite, eutrophication, recovery, lake restoration, cyanobacteria
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
General > Science Policy
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 31 May 2016 14:00 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...