Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
SUMMARY 1. Thirty small upland lakes in Cumbria, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were visited three times between April and August 2000. On each occasion water chemistry was measured and phytoplankton bioassays were performed in the laboratory to assess growth-rate and yield limitation by phosphorus and nitrogen. In addition, yield limitation of periphyton growth was investigated twice, in situ, using nutrient-diffusing substrata.2. Over the whole season the percentage frequency of P, N and co-limitation was 24, 13 and 63%, respectively, for phytoplankton rate limitation and 20, 22 and 58%, respectively, for phytoplankton yield limitation.3. A clear response of periphyton yield to nutrient additions was found in 75% of all cases and of these, co-limitation was most common (54%). Average percentage frequency for P and N limitation was 26 and 20%, respectively.4. Phytoplankton and periphyton showed seasonal changes in nutrient limitation within sites. In particular, co-limitation became progressively more common as the season progressed.5. The response of phytoplankton growth rate to ammonium and nitrate addition was identical, but ammonium was a slightly better source of nitrogen than nitrate for phytoplankton yield on 7% and for periphyton yield on 10% of the occasions. However, the magnitude of the effect was small.6. The concentration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and the molar ratio of DIN to total dissolved phosphorus (TDP), appeared to be the main environmental factors controlling the extent of nitrogen or phosphorus limitation at a given site. Nitrogen limitation was more likely than phosphorus limitation where the DIN was 〈6.5 mmol m−3 and the ratio of DIN : TDP was 〈53. Co-limitation was the most likely outcome at a DIN concentration 〈13 mmol m−3 and at a DIN : TDP molar ratio 〈250. Above these values phosphorus limitation was most likely.7. The relatively high frequency of nitrogen limitation and co-limitation at higher N : P ratios than previously reported, may result from the inability of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria to thrive in these upland lakes where pH and the concentration of phosphorus tended to be low and where flushing rates tended to be high.
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