Recent advances in the understanding and management of eutrophication

Schindler, David W.

Limnol. Oceanogr., 51(1_part_2), 2006, 356-363 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2006.51.1_part_2.0356

ABSTRACT: Major advances in the scientific understanding and management of eutrophication have been made since the late 1960s. The control of point sources of phosphorus reduced algal blooms in many lakes. Diffuse nutrient sources from land use changes and urbanization in the catchments of lakes have proved possible to control but require many years of restoration efforts. The importance of water residence time to eutrophication has been recognized. Changes in aquatic communities contribute to eutrophication via the trophic cascade, nutrient stoichiometry, and transport of nutrients from benthic to pelagic regions. Overexploitation of piscivorous fishes appears to be a particularly common amplifier of eutrophication. Internal nutrient loading can be controlled by reducing external loading, although the full response of lakes may take decades. In the years ahead, climate warming will aggravate eutrophication in lakes receiving point sources of nutrients, as a result of increasing water residence times. Decreased silica supplies from dwindling inflows may increasingly favor the replacement of diatoms by nitrogen-fixing Cyanobacteria. Increases in transport of nitrogen by rivers to estuaries and coastal oceans have followed increased use of nitrogen in agriculture and increasing emissions to the atmosphere. Our understanding of eutrophication and its management has evolved from simple control of nutrient sources to recognition that it is often a cumulative effects problem that will require protection and restoration of many features of a lake’s community and its catchment.

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