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Sci Total Environ. 2016 Jul 1;557-558:445-52. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.094. Epub 2016 Mar 24.

Decline in water level boosts cyanobacteria dominance in subtropical reservoirs.

Author information

1
Aquatic Ecohealth Group, Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
2
Aquatic Ecohealth Group, Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China.
3
Aquatic Ecohealth Group, Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China. Electronic address: jyang@iue.ac.cn.

Abstract

Globally aquatic ecosystems are likely to become more vulnerable to extreme water fluctuation rates due to the combined effects of climate change and human activity. However, relatively little is known about the importance of water level fluctuations (WLF) as a predictor of phytoplankton community shifts in subtropical reservoirs. In this study, we used one year of data (2010-2011) from four subtropical reservoirs of southeast China to quantify the effects of WLF and other environmental variables on phytoplankton and cyanobacteria dynamics. The reservoirs showed an apparent switch between a turbid state dominated by cyanobacteria and a clear state dominated by other non-cyanobacterial taxa (e.g., diatoms, green algae). Cyanobacterial dominance decreased, or increased, following marked changes in water level. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that pH, euphotic depth, WLF, and total phosphorus provided the best model and explained 30.8% of the variance in cyanobacteria biomass. Path analysis showed that positive WLF (i.e. an increase in water level) can reduce the cyanobacteria biomass either directly by a dilution effect or indirectly by modifying the limnological conditions of the reservoirs in complex pathways. To control the risk of cyanobacterial dominance or blooms, WLF should be targeted to be above +2m/month; that is an increase in water level of 2m or more. Given that WLF is likely to be of more frequent occurrence under future predicted conditions of climate variability and human activity, water level management can be widely used in small and medium-sized reservoirs to prevent the toxic cyanobacterial blooms and to protect the ecosystem integrity or functions.

KEYWORDS:

Alternative stable states; Climate change; Human activity; Phytoplankton; Resilience; Water level fluctuations

PMID:
27016690
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.094
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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