, Volume 103, Issue 1, pp 107–111

The mythical concept of eutrophication

  • M. C. Whiteside
Part Two: Lake Changes Related to the Influence of Man


Paleolimnologists frequently invoke the term ‘eutrophication’ for describing apparent enrichment phases in the history of a lake. I argue that this term is often used incorrectly and that alternative explanations can serve as more accurate descriptions. Increased organic content in the sedimentary record may result from increased nutrient availability (eutrophication), but it can also reflect decreased residence time of water, or changes in biotic interactions, or changes in lake morphometry.

Additionally, I argue that ‘eutrophication’ is an inappropriate term for describing the aging process of lakes. Lake ontogeny is the preferred term, as it does not imply directional changes in nutrients, nor in community structure.


paleolimnology lake ontogeny lake succession eutrophication 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alhonen, P., 1967. Paleolimnological investigations of three inland lakes in south-western Finland. Acta bot. fern. 76: 1–59.Google Scholar
  2. Brooks, J. L., 1969. Eutrophication and changes in the composition of the Zooplankton. In: Eutrophication, Causes, Consequences, Correctives. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1970, pp. 236–255.Google Scholar
  3. Cowgill, U. M. & Hutchinson, G. E., 1966. The history of the Petenxil basin. In: The History of Laguna de Petenxil. A Small Lake in northern Guatemala. Mem. Connecticut Acad. Arts Sci.: 121–126.Google Scholar
  4. Deevey, E. S. Jr., 1955. The obliteration of the hypolimnion. Mem. 1st. ital. Idrobiol. Suppl. 8: 9–38.Google Scholar
  5. Devol, A. H. and Wissmar, R. C., 1978. Analysis of five North America lake ecosystems. V. Primary production and community structure. Verh. int. Ver. Limnol. 20: 581–586.Google Scholar
  6. Frey, D. G., 1969. Evidence for eutrophication from remains of organisms in sediments. In: Eutrophication, Causes, Consequences, Correctives. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1970, pp. 594–613.Google Scholar
  7. Goulden, C. E., 1969. Developmental phases of biocoenosis. Proc. National Acad. of Science 62: 1066–1073.Google Scholar
  8. Hrbáček, J., 1962. Species composition and the amount of the zooplankton in relation to the fish stock. Rozpravy Čsav, Řada Mat. a přir. Ved. 72: 1–116.Google Scholar
  9. Hutchinson, G. E., 1969. Eutrophication, Past and Present. In: Eutrophication, Causes, Consequences, Correctives. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1970, pp. 17–26.Google Scholar
  10. Hutchinson, G. E., 1973. Eutrophication. Am. Sci. 61: 269–279.Google Scholar
  11. Kerfoot, W. C., 1981. Long-term replacement cycles in Cladocera communities: A history of predation. Ecol. 62: 216–233.Google Scholar
  12. Krebs, C. J., 1978. Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance. 2nd Ed. Harper & Row, New York, 678 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Likens, G. E., 1972. Eutrophication and aquatic ecosystems. In: Nutrients and Eutrophication: The Limiting-Nutrient Controversy. Limnol. Oceanogr. Special Symposium. 1: 3–13.Google Scholar
  14. Lindemann, R. L., 1942. The trophic-dynamic aspect of ecology. Ecology 23: 399–418.Google Scholar
  15. Mackareth, F. J. H., 1966. Some chemical observations on post-glacial lake sediments. Phil. Trans. Soc. Lord. B., Biol. Sci. 250: 165–213.Google Scholar
  16. Margelef, R., 1964. Correspondence between the classic types of lakes and their structural and dynamic properties of their populations. Verh. int. Ver. Limnol. 15: 169–175.Google Scholar
  17. Rodhe, W., 1969. Crystallization of eutrophication concepts in northern europe. In: Eutrophication, Causes, Consequences, Correctives. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1970, pp. 50–64.Google Scholar
  18. Schindler, D. W., 1978. Factors regulating phytoplankton production and standing crop in the world's freshwaters. Limnol. Oceanogr. 23: 478–486.Google Scholar
  19. Shapiro, J., Lamarra, V. & Lynch, M., 1975. Biomanipulation: An ecosystem approach to lake restoration. In: Brezonik, P. L. (Ed.) Sympo. Water Qual. Management through Biological Control (Proceedings). Univ. of Florida, Gainesville. 164 pp.Google Scholar
  20. Smith, R. L., 1980. Ecology and Field Biology (3rd Ed.). Harper & Row, N.Y. 835 pp.Google Scholar
  21. Tsukada, M., 1967. Successions of Cladocera and benthic animals in Lake Nojiri. Japan. J. Limnol. 28: 107–123.Google Scholar
  22. Wetzel, R. G., 1975. Limnology. Saunders, W. B., Philadelphia. 743 pp.Google Scholar
  23. Wetzel, R. G., 1979. The role of the littoral zone and detritus in lake metabolism. Arch. Hydrobiol. Beih. 13: 145–161.Google Scholar
  24. Whiteside, M. C. & Harmsworth, R. V., 1967. Species diversity in chydorid (Cladocera) communities. Ecology 48: 644–667.Google Scholar
  25. Zaret, T. M., 1981. Predation and freshwater communities. Yale University Press. New Haven, 187 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Whiteside
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology & Graduate Program in EcologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleU. S. A.

Personalised recommendations