, Volume 681, Issue 1, pp 23–33 | Cite as

Long-term variation and regulation of internal phosphorus loading in Loch Leven

  • B. M. SpearsEmail author
  • L. Carvalho
  • R. Perkins
  • A. Kirika
  • D. M. Paterson


Long-term monitoring data (1968–2008) were used to investigate internal phosphorus (P) loading following external P loading reduction in shallow Loch Leven, Scotland. A whole-lake sediment P inventory (upper 3 cm of sediment; 2005) suggested a release-potential of 29.7 tonnes (t) from the release sensitive sediment P pools. 18.5 t was contained within shallow water sediments (<4.5 m water depth) with 7.6 t in deeper water sediments below the photic zone (>5 m water depth). The “observed” release (<5.1 t), estimated using a water column P mass balance approach (1989–2008), was <5.1 t, indicating the presence of regulating mechanisms. Observed P release declined between 1989 and 2008, with the exception of 2003–2006. Observed P release estimates were positively correlated with annual average water column P concentration after 1989, highlighting the role of internal loading in maintaining poor water quality conditions after management intervention. Multiple regression analysis suggested that internal loading was driven by the wave mixed depth in spring (positive driver), summer water temperature (positive driver) and spring water clarity transparency (negative driver). The potential importance of biological and physico-chemical feedback mechanisms in the regulation of benthic–pelagic coupling and water quality in Loch Leven are discussed.


Sediment Phosphorus Internal loading Weather Water quality Recovery Eutrophication 



We would like to acknowledge Mr. Jamie Montgomery and, his father, Sir David Montgomery for their continued support, enthusiasm and assistance throughout the project. We would also like to thank Willie Wilson, of Loch Leven Fisheries, for his invaluable advice and support during the project and for the provision of weather data. Finally, we wish to thank Dr. Martin Søndergaard (NERI, Denmark) and Dr. Andrea Kelly (the Broads Authority, UK) for useful comments that led to the improvement of the manuscript. This project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, UK.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. M. Spears
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Carvalho
    • 1
  • R. Perkins
    • 2
  • A. Kirika
    • 1
  • D. M. Paterson
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology & HydrologyPenicuikUK
  2. 2.School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  3. 3.Sediment Ecology Research Group, Gatty Marine LaboratoryUniversity of St. AndrewsFifeUK
  4. 4.Scottish Oceans InstituteUniversity of St. AndrewsFifeUK

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