Restoring gradual land-water transitions in a shallow lake improved phytoplankton quantity and quality with cascading effects on zooplankton production

Hui Jin*, Dedmer B. Van de Waal, Casper H.A. van Leeuwen, Leon P.M. Lamers, Steven A.J. Declerck, Ana Luisa Amorim, Elisabeth S. Bakker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Land-water transition areas play a significant role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. However, anthropogenic pressures are posing severe threats on land-water transition areas, which leads to degradation of the ecological integrity of many lakes worldwide. Enhancing habitat complexity and heterogeneity by restoring land-water transition areas in lake systems is deemed a suitable method to restore lakes bottom-up by stimulating lower trophic levels. Stimulating productivity of lower trophic levels (phytoplankton, zooplankton) generates important food sources for declining higher trophic levels (fish, birds). Here, we study ecosystem restoration project Marker Wadden in Lake Markermeer, The Netherlands. This project involved the construction of a 700-ha archipelago of five islands in a degrading shallow lake, aiming to create additional sheltered land-water transition areas to stimulate food web development from its base by improving phytoplankton quantity and quality. We found that phytoplankton quantity (chlorophyll-a concentration) and quality (inversed carbon:nutrient ratio) in the shallow waters inside the Marker Wadden archipelago were significantly improved, likely due to higher nutrient availabilities, while light availability remained sufficient, compared to the surrounding lake. Higher phytoplankton quantity and quality was positively correlated with zooplankton biomass, which was higher inside the archipelago than in the surrounding lake due to improved trophic transfer efficiency between phytoplankton and zooplankton. We conclude that creating new land-water transition areas can be used to increase light and nutrient availabilities and thereby enhancing primary productivity, which in turn can stimulate higher trophic levels in degrading aquatic ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119915
JournalWater Research
Volume235
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2023

Keywords

  • Aquatic food web
  • Marker Wadden
  • Shelter
  • Stoichiometry
  • Trophic transfer efficiency
  • Wind

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