Environmental Management

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 526–533 | Cite as

Phosphorus Loadings Associated with a Park Tourist Attraction: Limnological Consequences of Feeding the Fish

  • Andrew M. TurnerEmail author
  • Nathan Ruhl


The Linesville spillway of Pymatuning State Park is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Pennsylvania, USA, averaging more than 450,000 visitors · year−1. Carp (Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus) and waterfowl congregate at the spillway where they are fed bread and other foods by park visitors. We hypothesized that the “breadthrowers” constitute a significant nutrient vector to the upper portion of Pymatuning Reservoir. In the summer of 2002, we estimated phosphorus loadings attributable to breadthrowers, and compared these values to background loadings from Linesville Creek, a major tributary to the upper reservoir. Items fed to fish included bread, donuts, bagels, canned corn, popcorn, corn chips, hot dogs, birthday cakes, and dog food. Phosphorus loading associated with park visitors feeding fish was estimated to be 3233 g day−1, and estimated P export from the Linesville Creek watershed was 2235 g·day−1. P loading attributable to breadthrowers exceeded that of the entire Linesville Creek watershed on 33 of the 35 days of study, with only a heavy rainfall event triggering watershed exports that exceeded spillway contributions. Averaged across 5 weeks, breadthrowers contributed 1.45-fold more P to Pymatuning Reservoir than the Linesville Creek watershed. If Linesville Creek P exports are extrapolated to the entire Sanctuary Lake watershed, spillway contributions of P added 48% to the non-point source watershed P entering the lake. Park visitors feeding fish at the Linesville Spillway are a significant source of nutrients entering Sanctuary Lake.


Eutrophication Nutrient enrichment Phosphorus loading Visitor impacts Carp 



Students enrolled in the 2002 Limnology course at the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology (PLE) initiated this study as a class research project and collected much of the data presented here. Thanks to the class: Vince Cummins, Chad Eisenman, Sarah Hudson, Ken Lee, Michael Sawicki, Mike Spence, Sari Sullivan, and Crystal Vangura. Sharon Montgomery, Chuck Williams, Mark Orams, and several anonymous reviews commented on the manuscript. We thank April Randle for maintaining the PLE water lab, Stephen Tonsor for his encouragement, and the PLE staff for their help. The Archbold Biological Station provided logistical support during manuscript preparation. Financial support was provided by Clarion University’s College of Arts and Sciences and by the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyClarion UniversityClarionUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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