, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 1142–1156 | Cite as

Rapid Recovery from Eutrophication of a Stratified Lake by Disruption of Internal Nutrient Load

  • Thomas Mehner
  • Markus Diekmann
  • Thomas Gonsiorczyk
  • Peter Kasprzak
  • Rainer Koschel
  • Lothar Krienitz
  • Marion Rumpf
  • Michael Schulz
  • Gerlinde Wauer


Restoration of anthropogenically eutrophied lake ecosystems is difficult due to feedback mechanisms that stabilize the trophically degraded state. Here, we show rapid recovery of a eutrophic stratified lake in response to multiple restoration that targeted the feedback mechanisms of high external and internal nutrient loads, lack of a trophic cascade, and lack of structured littoral habitats. Lake Tiefwarensee (Germany) was exposed to aluminium and calcium treatment and fisheries management over 5 years. Within this period, in-lake phosphorus concentrations declined by more than 80%, and transparency, zooplankton biomass and fish assemblage structure and biomass responded immediately and almost linearly to the reduction in phosphorus concentrations. Phytoplankton biomass and chlorophyll a (chl a) concentrations likewise decreased in response to restoration, but the declining trend was interrupted by one recovery year with unusually high phytoplankton biomasses. The zooplankton:phytoplankton biomass ratio and the chl a:phosphorus ratio approached values observed in other stratified lakes during natural recovery from eutrophication. The slow response of Tiefwarensee to the reduction of external load, and the quick response to the chemical treatment suggest that the disruption of internal P recycling and loading was the decisive restoration measure in Tiefwarensee. The external load reduction was a necessary but not sufficient measure, at least in the short-term, whereas the low-effort fisheries management was of minor importance. A comparison with other case studies confirms that measures aiming to inactivate phosphorus are the most efficient approaches to restore stratified lakes in the short-term, but a shift to a permanent near-pristine state is possible only by additional P input control.


phosphorus inactivation food web deep lake internal nutrient loading restoration 



Lake restoration and research were financed by the Environmental Ministry of the German Federal State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the city of Waren (Müritz). Technical support during sampling and raw sample analyses was given by J. Dalchow, U. Mallok, R. Rossberg, M. Sachtleben, R. Degebrodt, C. Helms, T. Rohde and A. Türck. K. Kalies counted the phytoplankton and zooplankton samples. Brett Johnson, Erik Jeppesen as subject editor and four anonymous reviewers gave many insightful comments which helped improve the text.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Mehner
    • 1
  • Markus Diekmann
    • 1
  • Thomas Gonsiorczyk
    • 2
  • Peter Kasprzak
    • 2
  • Rainer Koschel
    • 2
  • Lothar Krienitz
    • 2
  • Marion Rumpf
    • 1
  • Michael Schulz
    • 1
  • Gerlinde Wauer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Ecology of FishesLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Limnology of Stratified LakesLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesStechlin-NeuglobsowGermany

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