Linking ecology and management of water quality : the distribution and growth of phytoplankton in coastal lakes of British Columbia




Davies, John-Mark.

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Processes regulating the growth and successional pattern of phytoplankton and the production of odour compounds in lakes of coastal and interior British Columbia were examined. An emphasis was placed on the role of nutrients, the role of size in determining nutrient deficiency, and the importance of winter for understanding the functioning of coastal lakes. Although the study lakes were all phosphorus limited (TN:TP molar ratio >22), plankton, especially the greater than 3 pm size fraction, were often nitrogen deficient. This demonstrates the importance of nitrogen as a growth regulating nutrient for larger plankton in these lakes. Seasonal patterns of productivity varied among lakes, and Maxwell Lake was found to reach maximal photosynthetic rates in February. Lakes without a dominant seasonal physical influence (e.g. ice-cover) and those subject to short-scale stochastic events that play dominant roles may not have their "successional clock" set. This can lead to an apparent chaotic seasonal pattern of species distribution. In coastal lakes the lack of strong seasonal patterns is more likely to occur in lakes with lower nutrients (e.g. <10 pg TP-L-') than in lakes with relatively high nutrients (>I5 pg TP.L-') because of the seasonal cycling of nutrients within eutrophic lakes. The origin of odours in drinking water was examined from nineteen lakes and reservoirs to determine links between limnological variables and classification and intensity of odour. Total phosphorus (TP) was the best single predictor of odour intensity. Vegetation and grassy odours were more prevalent in lakes with TP less than 13 pgL-', while earthy odours were common at higher TP. Drinking water quality issues were reviewed and the relationship between policy, management and science was examined. This work stresses the importance of sound science to ensure the legality, legitimacy, efficiency and effectiveness of implementing water quality policies and for establishing best management practices.