Gardner, E. M., McKnight, D. M., Lewis, W. M., and Miller, M. P (2008)

Effects of Nutrient Enrichment on Phytoplankton in an Alpine Lake, Colorado, USA

Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, 40(1): 55-64.

Deposition of atmospheric nitrogen from urban and agricultural sources has caused surface water nitrate concentrations to increase in the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. To investigate the effects of sustained increases in nitrate concentrations on phytoplankton dynamics in an alpine lake, we conducted nutrient enrichment experiments in mesocosms amended with nitrate, phosphate, and phosphate plus nitrate on four dates in July and August 2002. During this period, phytoplankton species composition shifted as diatoms decreased in abundance. Phytoplankton chlorophyll a increased in the phosphate and phosphate plus nitrate enrichments, but did not increase in the nitrate only enrichments. Analysis of the phytoplankton community using Principal Component Analysis showed that 34% of the variance was accounted for by the primary axis, which was associated with different time periods, and 21% of the variance was explained by the secondary axis, which was associated with treatments. The response to phosphorus enrichment was taxon-specific, and the two chlorophyte species which became more abundant, Chlamydomonas sp. and Scenedesmus sp., were strongly weighted on the secondary axis. These results indicate that the productivity of this phytoplankton community is phosphorus-limited throughout the summer. Therefore, additional inputs of nitrogen are not expected to alter the productivity of the phytoplankton community.

DOI: 10.1657/1523-0430(07-002)[GARDNER]2.0.CO;2