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This paper is an assessment of the changing properties of Lake Orta phytoplankton in the period 1984-1998, which includes the large-scale liming carried out in the lake in 1989 and 1990. The phytoplankton is analysed first in its general properties (abundance, biovolume, chlorophyll-a concentration, average cell size, diversity) by means of time courses of the mentioned variables based on monthly data through the entire period, and by correlations between the same variables. Moreover, through clustering techniques, the evolution of the species composition has been studied, showing the gradual decrease of chlorophytes after the liming and the noticeable increase of the diatom population, both as biovolume and diversity. Although the assemblage of the dominant species still mirrors the presence of some residual toxic compounds into the lake water, in the most recent period the evolution of the algal populations showed a clear trend towards a species assemblage more similar to those observed in the other deep italian subalpine lakes. After the improving of the chemical environment, the main abiotic factor that in the next years could play a major role in modifying the species assemblage is probably the phosphorus supply, whose in-lake concentration is low, despite the high annual load from the basin. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the phosphorus dynamics represent the basis to make reliable hypotheses about the future evolution of the phytoplankton assemblage.
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