Changes in deposition of phytoplankton constituents in a Ca2+ polluted lake

Steven W. Effler, Carol M. Matthews Brooks, Charles T. Driscoll

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19 Scopus citations


Systematic reductions in the deposition rate of organic C, N, P, and chlorophyll (Chl) are documented for Ca2+ polluted, culturally eutrophic, Onondaga Lake, NY, based on analyses of weekly sediment trap collections over the May-October interval for 10 years of the 1980-1992 period. Inputs of both nutrient-rich domestic waste and industrial salt waste (including Ca2+) decreased over this period. Constituent ratios of the collected sediment indicate phytoplankton biomass was the dominant source of the deposited organic C, N, and Chl. Substantial decreases in downward fluxes of these constituents occurred starting in 1987: 37, 42, 25, and 54%, on average, for organic C, N, P, and Chl, respectively. These reductions were driven primarily by the decreases in the lake's salinity and Ca2+ concentration, that resulted from the closure of a soda ash manufacturing facility (1986), rather than decreases in water column P concentrations from reductions in domestic waste loading. Three different mechanisms for the decreased deposition, related to the reductions in salinity and Ca2+ concentration, are considered: (i) decrease in coating of phytoplankton with CACO3 precipitate, (ii) increased grazing of phytoplankton by large cladocerans, and (iii) decreases in coagulation of phytoplankton. The greater loss of phytoplankton biomass through deposition, driven by salt waste inputs from the industry, exacerbated the lake's problem of high primary production. This response is consistent with ecological theory for nutrient saturated phytoplankton growth but has not previously been demonstrated on a whole-lake basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3082-3088
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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