Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 146–152

Phytoplankton Community and Chlorophyll a as Trophic State Indices of Lake Skadar (Montenegro, Balkan) (7 pp)


    • Jelena Rakocevic-Nedovic University of Montenegro Faculty of Sciences Biology Department Cetinjski put bb 81000 Podgorica SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
    • Dr. Henner Hollert Department of Zoology University of Heidelberg Aquatic Toxicology Im Neuenheimer Feld 230 69120 Heidelberg DEUTSCHLAND

DOI: 10.1065/espr2005.04.241

Cite this article as:
Rakocevic-Nedovic, J. & Hollert, H. Env Sci Poll Res Int (2005) 12: 146. doi:10.1065/espr2005.04.241


Background, Aims and Scope

Phytoplankton, as a first step in trophic cascades of lakes, can be a good indicator of trophic states, considering that every environmental change affects this community and many species of this community are sensitive to changes, and that they response very quickly. In this study, we tried to assess and predict the trophic state of Lake Skadar according to phytoplankton data.


Water samples were collected using Ruttner sampling bottle. Temperature, dissolved oxygen, ph, conductivity and transparence were measured in situ using portable equipment. Nutrients and chlorophyll a were measured using standard spectrophotometric methods. A determination of phytoplankton species was performed using relevant keys and the counting of cells was performed using sedimentation methods.

Results and Discussion

The species composition of Lake Skadar revealed 95 taxa, with Chlorophyceae and Bacillariophyceae being represented best. According to an average chlorophyll a concentration of 5.9 µg/l, Lake Skadar belongs to the mesotrophic level of the trophic scale. Developed prediction equation for chlorophyll a revealed a good prediction (R2=0.71) and the parameter Secchi depth was primarily correlated with chlorophyll a concentration. Trophic state indices derived from chlorophyll a and transparency, were close together, but both were below the phosphorous index. Values of trophic state indices rank the Lake Skadar as being mesotrophic. This study also showed that indices of diversity based on phytoplankton are weak indicators of trophic status and that they can well characterize only differences between assemblages and associations. According to calculated saprobic indices (ranging from 1.5 to 2.15), Lake Skadar is on betamesosaprobic level of saprobity, which means that it is moderately polluted with organic compounds.


Total phosphorus is not the main limiting factor for the phytoplankton community in Lake Skadar. Disagreements between chlorophyll and the transparency index, on the one hand, and the total phosphorus index, on the other, suggest that the phytoplankton in Lake Skadar is probably limited by other factors than phosphorus, such as nitrogen, toxic substances or intense zooplankton grazing. According to the majority of investigated parameters and indices derived from phytoplankton data, Lake Skadar is mesotrophic, with tendencies toward eutrophic levels during the summer period.

Recommendations and Outlook

Long-term monitoring is required for a better estimation of state and the conditions of Lake Skadar. Further studies on factors influencing the phytoplankton community, especially zooplankton grazing and toxic substances, which were not included in this study, should be continued in the future to improve the efficiency of phytoplankton usage in estimating the ecological and trophic conditions of Lake Skadar.

Lake Skadarchlorophylldiversity indicesMontenegrophytoplanktonsaprobitytrophic state indices
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© Ecomed 2005