Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 295–307 | Cite as

Vertical distributions of chlorophyll in deep, warm monomictic lakes

  • David P. Hamilton
  • Katherine R. O’Brien
  • Michele A. Burford
  • Justin D. Brookes
  • Chris G. McBride
Research Article


The factors affecting vertical distributions of chlorophyll fluorescence were examined in four temperate, warm monomictic lakes. Each of the lakes (maximum depth >80 m) was sampled over 2 years at intervals from monthly to seasonal. Profiles were taken of chlorophyll fluorescence (as a proxy for algal biomass), temperature and irradiance, as well as integrated samples from the surface mixed layer for chlorophyll a (chl a) and nutrient concentrations in each lake. Depth profiles of chlorophyll fluorescence were also made along transects of the longest axis of each lake. Chlorophyll fluorescence maxima occurred at depths closely correlated with euphotic depth (r 2 = 0.67, P < 0.01), which varied with nutrient status of the lakes. While seasonal thermal density stratification is a prerequisite for the existence of a deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM), our study provides evidence that the depth of light penetration largely dictates the DCM depth during stratification. Reduction in water clarity through eutrophication can cause a shift in phytoplankton distributions from a DCM in spring or summer to a surface chlorophyll maximum within the surface mixed layer when the depth of the euphotic zone (z eu) is consistently shallower than the depth of the surface mixed layer (z SML). Trophic status has a key role in determining vertical distributions of chlorophyll in the four lakes, but does not appear to disrupt the annual cycle of maximum chlorophyll in winter.


Phytoplankton Deep chlorophyll maximum Rotorua lakes Fluorescence Non-photochemical quenching 



This study was funded through the Foundation of Research, Science and Technology (Contract UOWX0505) and the University of Waikato Lakes Chair supported by Environment Bay of Plenty. KO’B’s participation in this project was supported by research Grants from the School of Engineering, University of Queensland. We acknowledge the assistance of Dennis Trolle in discussions on this manuscript, and George Ganf, Warwick Vincent and Emanuel Boss for reviews.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • David P. Hamilton
    • 1
  • Katherine R. O’Brien
    • 2
  • Michele A. Burford
    • 3
  • Justin D. Brookes
    • 4
  • Chris G. McBride
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology ResearchUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Division of Environmental EngineeringUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  3. 3.Australian Rivers InstituteGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  4. 4.Water Research ClusterUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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