Climate forcing of diatom productivity in a lowland, eutrophic lake: White Lough revisited

N. John Anderson, Robert H. Foy, Daniel R. Engstrom, Brian Rippey, Farah Alamgir

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    Summary1. In cultural landscapes, lake response to climate can be masked by land-use change and nutrient loss from their catchments. Palaeolimnological methods were used to reconstruct the ecological response of diatoms in a eutrophic lowland lake (White Lough, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland) to altered nutrient P loading and precipitation variability over c. 100 years.2. 210Pb-dated sediment cores were analysed to determine diatom assemblage variability, biogenic silica concentration, geochemical phosphorus concentration and accumulation rate. Manure P and agricultural N surplus data were collated from documentary sources. Long-term trends in annual temperature and precipitation were derived from the Armagh Observatory.3. Diatom community turnover from 1890 until c. 1960 was limited, and assemblages were dominated by Aulacoseira subarctica; after this date, changes primarily reflected a eutrophication sequence owing to increased diffuse nutrient inputs associated with intensification of land use (external P loading increased by a factor of three).4. Diatom and biogenic Si profiles were compared with North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) records, an index of regional weather patterns. Biogenic Si exhibited a c. 7-year cycle, which tracked a cycle of similar timescale in the Armagh climate record for dry summers. In turn, this cycle was related to the variation in the NAO.5. Monitoring data from 1971 to 2007 of nitrate exports from the Blackwater River showed that these too followed a roughly 7-year cycle at least up to 2000, in which dry summers were followed by sharp increases in nitrate export. It is argued that diatom production in White Lough reflects the cyclic behaviour in nitrate loading and the constraints that nitrogen availability places on the spring diatom bloom in a lake that is dominated by cyanobacteria.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalFreshwater Biology
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2012


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