Article

Hydrobiologia

, Volume 489, Issue 1, pp 21-27

First online:

Physiological indicators of nutrient deficiency in phytoplankton in southern Chilean lakes

  • Gail S. SteinhartAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell UniversityInstitute of Ecosystem Studies
  • , Gene E. LikensAffiliated withInstitute of Ecosystem Studies
  • , Doris SotoAffiliated withFacultad de Pesquerías y Oceanografía, Universidad Austral de Chile

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

We assessed the nutrient status of phytoplankton in 28 lakes in southern Chile using two types of physiological indicators: specific alkaline phosphatase activity, and the elemental composition (carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus) of seston. Alkaline phosphatase activity ranged from 0.001 to 0.11 μmol P μg chl−1 h−1, with P-deficiency indicated in about one-half the study lakes. C:N ranged from 3.9 to 24, C:P ranged from 86 to 919, and N:P ranged from 8.7 to 99. C:P and N:P ratios greater than the Redfield ratio were common, suggesting P deficiency in many of the lakes. C:N ratios were not generally indicative of N deficiency. Previous studies have suggested N may be the primary limiting nutrient in southern Chilean lakes, but our results indicate that P should not be discounted as a limiting nutrient.

nutrient limitation phytoplankton Chile seston composition