Seasonal Dynamics of Nutrient Loading and Chlorophyll A in a Northern Prairies Reservoir, Saskatchewan, Canada


Harmful algae blooms have become an increasing concern in context with the safety of water resources around the globe; however, little is known about the dynamics and specific causes of such blooms in the prairie ecozone in North America. The aim of this study was to research the nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) content and nutrient limitation (defined as N and P limitation) of growth of cyanobacteria in a northern prairies reservoir (Lake Diefenbaker [LD], SK, Canada). A combination of concentration balance analysis for N and P, controlled bioassays with the natural consortium of phytoplankton or defined monocultures of cyanobacteria, and satellite imagery was applied to address this aim. The current trophic status of Lake Diefenbaker is one of moderate eutrophication. Primary production in the lake is P-limited, and N did not represent a limiting factor for algal production. There was no significant increase in TP con- centrations between the upper and lower portions of the reservoir, indicating that most of the phosphorus in LD comes from upstream sites in Alberta. Anabaena circinalis, a species that has the potential to seriously degrade lake ecosys- tems, was identified as the predominant cyanobacteria in LD. Together with the fact that TP influxes into the reservoir primarily originate from upstream sources, these results suggest the need for remedial measures in the upstream reach of the South Saskatchewan River. Satellite imaging represented a promising approach in support of monitoring for po- tential algal blooms in LD; however, due to limited sensitivity and issues associated with atmosphere interference this methodology should only be used in combination with in situ water quality monitoring. In summary, while this study indicated that Lake Diefenbaker is potentially at risk with cyanobacteria blooms (some of which such as Anabena sp. that can produce toxins) during late summer and fall, development of clear causal relationships and risk assessment strategies is currently limited due to lack of monitoring data and programs.

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M. Hecker, J. Khim, J. Giesy, S. Li and J. Ryu, "Seasonal Dynamics of Nutrient Loading and Chlorophyll A in a Northern Prairies Reservoir, Saskatchewan, Canada," Journal of Water Resource and Protection, Vol. 4 No. 4, 2012, pp. 180-202. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2012.44021.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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