Exploring Change of Internal Nutrients Cycling in a Shallow Lake: A Dynamic Nutrient Driven Phytoplankton Model

Ecological Modelling

Yuzhao Li, Yong Liu, Lei Zha, Alan Hastings, Huaicheng Guo

ABSTRCT: Lake eutrophication is associated with excessive nutrient enrichment and unobserved internal nutrient cycling. In spite of advances in understanding the role of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycling in eutrophication, the relative importance of N and P limitation and release from sediment is still an open question. The complicated interaction between N and P cycling and external driving factors leads to dynamics in N or P limitation patterns and internal release that change over time. We developed a nutrient-driven model of phytoplankton dynamics including the critical nutrient cycling processes. It was fitted using Bayesian inference to explore the roles of N and P inputs from external sources, net sediment release, and internal dynamics in Lake Yilong, a shallow eutrophic lake in China. The model provided a good fit to observations, with time-varying parameters required to fit time-dependent variations in the sediment release process. The results demonstrated that, in Lake Yilong, the pattern of nutrient limitation showed a transformation from P limitation to N and P co-limitation after an observed regime shift occurred in 2008. After the shift in 2008, sediment release had an increasing influence on N and P supply, which could make eutrophication remediation more difficult. For Lake Yilong, it would not be possible to reverse eutrophication solely with watershed nutrient load reduction so in-lake manipulation of physical-chemical conditions to inhibit the sediments release should also be considered.

Keywords: Nutrient cycling; Sediment release; Bayesian inference; Dynamic Modeling; Eutrophication; Regime shift