Extreme weather events influence the phytoplankton community structure in a large lowland subtropical lake (Lake Okeechobee, Florida, USA)
We demonstrate a major ecological change in a large lake ecosystem in response to a series of extreme weather events. Phytoplankton community dynamics in subtropical Lake Okeechobee are described from 2000 through early 2008 with emphasis on inter-relationships among phytoplankton populations and associated environmental variables in this large, shallow eutrophic lake. The lake experienced the physical effects of three hurricanes in 2004-2005, which caused massive sediment resuspension, near total elimination of submerged aquatic vegetation, elevated biologically available nutrients and total suspended solids, and lower water transparency. Patterns of long-term co-dominance by nitrogen (N)-fixing cyanobacteria and meroplanktonic diatoms abruptly changed to dominance by only meroplanktonic diatoms. The planktonic cyanobacteria genera Anabaena and Planktolyngbya both decreased approximately an order of magnitude in the post-hurricane period despite large surpluses of bioavailable nutrients. Meroplanktonic diatoms (mostly Aulacoseira spp.) declined approximately 20%, perhaps because of superior competitive ability for light in a polymictic, turbid water column. Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) suggested that reduction in planktonic cyanobacteria after compression of the photic zone and the persistence of meroplanktonic diatoms were related to light utilization traits for the key algal taxa and indicated that pre-existing light limitation and crustacean grazing pressure were intensified in the post-hurricane period. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Beaver, Casamatta, D. A., East, T. L., Havens, K. E., Rodusky, A. J., James, R. T., Tausz, C. E., & Buccier, K. M. (2013). Extreme weather events influence the phytoplankton community structure in a large lowland subtropical lake (Lake Okeechobee, Florida, USA). Hydrobiologia, 709(1), 213–226. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-013-1451-7