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The amount of terrestrial particulate organic matter (t-POM) entering lakes is predicted to increase as a result of climate change. This may especially alter the structure and functioning of ecosystems in small, shallow lakes which can rapidly shift from a clear-water, macrophyte-dominated into a turbid, phytoplankton-dominated state. We used the integrative ecosystem model PCLake to predict how rising t-POM inputs affect the resilience of the clear-water state. PCLake links a pelagic and benthic food chain with abiotic components by a number of direct and indirect effects. We focused on three pathways (zoobenthos, zooplankton, light availability) by which elevated t-POM inputs (with and without additional nutrients) may modify the critical nutrient loading thresholds at which a clear-water lake becomes turbid and vice versa. Our model results show that (1) increased zoobenthos biomass due to the enhanced food availability results in more benthivorous fish which reduce light availability due to bioturbation, (2) zooplankton biomass does not change, but suspended t-POM reduces the consumption of autochthonous particulate organic matter which increases the turbidity, and (3) the suspended t-POM reduces the light availability for submerged macrophytes. Therefore, light availability is the key process that is indirectly or directly changed by t-POM input. This strikingly resembles the deteriorating effect of terrestrial dissolved organic matter on the light climate of lakes. In all scenarios, the resilience of the clear-water state is reduced thus making the turbid state more likely at a given nutrient loading. Therefore, our study suggests that rising t-POM input can add to the effects of climate warming making reductions in nutrient loadings even more urgent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-626
JournalEcosystems
Volume17
Issue number4
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Research areas

  • international

ID: 128592