Water colour, phosphorus and alkalinity are the major determinants of the dominant phytoplankton species in European lakes

Maileht, Kairi; Nõges, Tiina; Nõges, Peeter; Ott, Ingmar; Mischke, Ute; Carvalho, Laurence; Dudley, Bernard. 2013 Water colour, phosphorus and alkalinity are the major determinants of the dominant phytoplankton species in European lakes. Hydrobiologia, 704 (1). 115-126.

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Analysis of phytoplankton data from about 1,500 lakes in 20 European countries has revealed that two-thirds of the species that dominate lakes during the summer are dominant right across Europe. Using Canonical Correspondence Analyses, we have examined how both habitat conditions within lakes and environmental factors over broad geographical scales explained the distribution of the 151 most common summer dominant species. The distributions of these species were best explained by water colour and latitude, although alkalinity and total phosphorus also appeared to be important explanatory factors. Contrary to our original hypothesis, summer water temperatures had a negligible impact on the distribution of dominants, although, due to the restricted summer season we examined, only a limited temperature gradient was present in the dataset. Cryptophytes occurred more frequently among dominants in Northern Europe whereas cyanobacteria and dinophytes dominated more in Central and Southern Europe. Our analyses suggest that besides nutrient concentrations, other water chemistry variables, such as alkalinity and the content of humic substances, have at least as important a role in determining the distribution of the dominant phytoplankton species in European lakes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0018-8158
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s final manuscript version of the journal article, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer review process. Some differences between this and the publisher’s version remain. You are advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from this article. The final publication is available at
Additional Keywords: WISER project, geographical gradients, nutrients, CCA, water temperature
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 29 Nov 2012 12:44 +0 (UTC)

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