, Volume 395-396, Issue 0, pp 41-60

Understanding lake and catchment history as a tool for integrated lake management

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Abstract

Sustainable lake management for nutrient-enriched lakes must be underpinned by an understanding of both the functioning of the lake, and the origins of changes in nutrient loading from the catchment. To date, limnologists have tended to focus on studying the impact of nutrient enrichment on the lake biota, and the dynamics of nutrient cycling between the water column, biota and sediments within the lake. Relatively less attention has been paid to understanding the specific origins of nutrient loading from the catchment and nutrient transport pathways linking the lake to its catchment. As such, when devising catchment management strategies to reduce nutrient loading on enriched lakes, assumptions have been made regarding the relative significance of non-point versus point sources in the catchment. These are not always supported by research conducted on catchment nutrient dynamics in other fields of freshwater science. Studies on nutrient enrichment in lakes need to take account of the history of catchment use and management specific to each lake in order to devise targeted and sustainable management strategies to reduce nutrient loading to enriched lakes. Here a modelling approach which allows quantification of the relative contribution of nutrients from each specific point and non-point catchment source over the course of catchment history is presented. The approach has been applied to three contrasting catchments in the U.K. for the period 1931 to present. These are the catchment of Slapton Ley in south Devon, the River Esk in Cumbria and the Deben Estuary in Suffolk. Each catchment showed marked variations in the nature and intensity of land use and management. The model output quantifies the relative importance of point source versus non-point livestock and land use sources in each of the catchments, and demonstrates the necessity for an understanding of site-specific catchment history in devising suitable management strategies for the reduction of nutrient loading on enriched lakes.