Spatial and temporal dynamics of phytoplankton communities in a Great Lakes drowned river-mouth lake (Mona Lake, USA)
Drowned-river mouth lakes, transitional zones between a lake and an inflowing river, have unique physical and hydrological dynamics. However, our knowledge about these ecosystems and their phytoplankton communities is limited by data availability, especially how well they conform to conventional phytoplankton models, such as the Plankton Ecology Group (PEG). We sampled Mona Lake, MI, on a monthly basis between May 2002 and August 2003 to: i) describe phytoplankton community structure (species composition and functional groups) in three hydrologic zones (Great Lake-influenced, transitional, and lotic-influenced) and at four temporal scales (spring, summer, fall, and winter); and ii) assess whether the phytoplankton dynamics in Mona Lake can be explained by PEG. Distinct patterns in Mona Lake phytoplankton communities and functional groups were not evident among the three hydrologic zones, which can be explained, at least in part, by the horizontally well-mixed waters in this system. However, there was a strong seasonal change in phytoplankton composition and functional groups, with summer dominance by large filamentous cyanobacteria with aerotopes, nitrogen-fixing Nostocaleans, and diatoms. In general, seasonal changes were related to increasing levels of dissolved oxygen and pH in spring, total phosphorus and temperature in summer, and ammonia in fall. Phytoplankton dynamics in Mona Lake were partially explained by the PEG model; our observations revealed different fall (cyanobacteria and chlorophytes) and winter (chlorophytes and dinoflagellates) communities than predicted. Temporal influence resulted in distinct changes in phytoplankton dynamics, whereas the hydrologic influence tended to homogenize phytoplankton community structure in this drowned river-mouth lake. This seasonal change conformed relatively well to the PEG model, which might have predictive applications in the management (e.g., control of algal blooms) of the lake.
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