, Volume 346, Issue 1-3, pp 169-181

Phytoplankton periodicity and sequences of dominance in an Amazonian flood-plain lake (Lago Batata, Pará, Brasil): responses to gradual environmental change

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The composition of the phytoplankton of Lago Batata,a flood-plain lake connected to Rio Trombetas,undergoes a conspicuous annual cycle which is relatedto the hydrology (depth of water, rate of fluvialflushing) and the hydrography (stability, frequency ofmixing of the water) of the lake. From a sparsenanoplankton at high-water and high flushing, the lakepasses to desmid-diatom dominance and finally tofilamentous cyanobacteria when the lake is barely 2 mdeep. As it refills, the lake again becomes desmid-dominated; then, when the turbidity is least and thestratification most stable, Botryococcus becomesa major component. Eventually flushing becomes toorapid for any but the relatively fastest-growingspecies. These changes are gradual and, at the scaleof algal generation times, cannot be explained assharp or sudden disturbances. Neither do they have theproperties of ecological successions but ratherrepresent compositional responses to a progressiveenvironmental modification analogous to the floristicphenomenon of gradual climate change.