, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 143–151 | Cite as

Prediction of the light attenuation coefficient through the Secchi disk depth: empirical modeling in two large Neotropical ecosystems

Research paper


The easiest way to evaluate water transparency is from the Secchi disk depth (SD). The behavior of radiation passing through water can also be quantified by the light attenuation coefficient (k) of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), measured using quanta meters. Due to the high costs of quanta meters, k is usually predicted from SD. This prediction can be made using the index SD × k or using nonlinear models that correlate these variables. The aims of this study were to generate models predicting k through SD in two large Neotropical ecosystems (a reservoir and a floodplain) and to test whether 1.7, the index used worldwide, is adequate for predicting k in these ecosystems. The current paper also tested the effects of time (between seasons and among years) and space (between ecosystems and inside each ecosystem) upon such predictions. A standard 30-cm Secchi disk was used to measure SD. Simultaneously, PAR was measured at two depths to estimate k. A total data set of 2,136 measurements taken from 2001 to 2005 was used. The index generated, 2.26, was significantly different from 1.7 (t test, p < 0.01). This suggests that 1.7 is not adequate for Neotropical ecosystems. In general, both the index and the models generated differed across ecosystems and over time. In addition, the analysis showed that a nonlinear model (= 2.00 × SD−0.76, N = 2,136) was more reliable for predictions.


Secchi disc depth Light attenuation coefficient Predictive models Space Time 


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Limnology 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Andrian Padial
    • 1
  • Sidinei Magela Thomaz
    • 1
  1. 1.Núcleo de Pesquisa em Limnologia, Ictiologia e Aqüicultura (Nupélia)UEMMaringáBrazil

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