, Volume 681, Issue 1, pp 49–57 | Cite as

Changes in aquatic macrophyte communities in Loch Leven: evidence of recovery from eutrophication?

  • B. DudleyEmail author
  • I. D. M. Gunn
  • L. Carvalho
  • I. Proctor
  • M. T. O’Hare
  • K. J. Murphy
  • A. Milligan
Loch Leven Research


This article assesses changes in the macrophyte community of Loch Leven over a period of 100 years. Evidence is presented that shows that these changes are associated with eutrophication and with subsequent recovery from eutrophication when anthropogenic nutrient inputs to the loch were reduced. This study uses macrophyte survey data from 1905, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986, 1993, 1999 and 2008. In each of the four most modern surveys, the loch was divided into 19 sectors, each with at least one transect ranging from the shallowest to the deepest occurrence of macrophytes. From these data, a range of indicators of recovery were derived at the whole lake scale: the relative abundance of taxa, taxon richness and evenness. All of these metrics showed an improvement since 1972. Species richness, measured at the scales of survey sector and individual samples, also appeared to have increased in recent years. All of these measures, coupled with ordination of the presence/absence composition data from all survey years, indicate that the macrophyte community in the loch is recovering towards the state that was recorded in 1905.


Lake Plant diversity Phosphorus Growing depth Charophyte Potamogeton 



The authors thank Bryan Spears and Linda May for help with the preparation of this manuscript. Thanks are also due to all of the surveyors involved in the collection of the data on which this article is based. We are also grateful to Kinross Estates for providing access to the loch. This research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. Loch Leven is part of the UK Environmental Change Network (


  1. Britton, R. H., 1975. Survey of aquatic macrophytes in Loch Leven. Loch Leven Research Group, Leven.Google Scholar
  2. Carss, D., B. M. Spears, L. Quinn & R. Cooper, 2011. Long-term variations in waterfowl populations in Loch Leven: identifying discontinuities between local and national trends. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0927-6
  3. Carvalho, L., C. Ferguson, B. M. Spears, I. D. M.Gunn, H. Bennion, A. Kirika & L. May, 2011. Water quality of Loch Leven: responses to enrichment, restoration and climate change. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0923-x.
  4. D’Arcy, B. J., L. May, J. Long, I. R. Fozzard, S. Greig & A. Brachet, 2006. The restoration of Loch Leven, Scotland, UK. Water Science and Technology 53: 183–191.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ferguson, C. A., L. Carvalho, E. M. Scott, A. W. Bowman & A. Kirika, 2008. Assessing ecological responses to environmental change using statistical models. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 193–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Garrard, G. E., S. A. Bekessy, M. A. McCarthy & B. A. Wintle, 2008. When have we looked hard enough? A novel method for setting minimum survey effort protocols for flora surveys. Austral Ecology 33: 986–998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Griffin, L. R. & A. Milligan, 1999. Submerged macrophytes of Loch Leven, Kinross (Report to Scottish Natural Heritage). University of Glasgow, Glasgow.Google Scholar
  8. Gunn, I. D. M., M. T. O’Hare, P. S. Maitland & L. May, 2011. Long-term trends in Loch Leven invertebrate communities. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0926-7.
  9. Jeppesen, E., M. A. Søndergaard, M. O. Søndergaard & K. Christofferson (eds), 1998. The structuring role of submerged macrophytes in lakes. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Jupp, B. P. & D. H. N. Spence, 1977. Limitations of macrophytes in a eutrophic lake, Loch Leven. II. Wave action, sediments and waterfowl grazing. Journal of Ecology 65: 431–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jupp, B. P., D. H. N. Spence & R. H. Britton, 1974. Distribution and production of submerged macrophytes in Loch Leven, Kinross. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Section B-Biological Sciences 74: 195–208.Google Scholar
  12. LLCMP, 1999. Loch Leven Catchment Management Plan. The Report of the Loch Leven Area Management Advisory Group: 93 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Magurran, A. E., 2004. Measuring Biological Diversity. Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  14. May, L. & L. Carvalho, 2010. Maximum growing depth of macrophytes in Loch Leven, Scotland, United Kingdom, in relation to historical changes in estimated phosphorus loading. Hydrobiologia 646: 123–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. May, L. & B. M. Spears, 2011. Managing ecosystem services at Loch Leven, Scotland, UK: actions, impacts and unintended consequences. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0931-x
  16. May, L. L. H. Defew, H. Bennion & A. Kirika, 2011. Historical changes (1905–2005) in external phosphorus loads to Loch Leven, Scotland, UK. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0922-y
  17. Moreno-Ostos, E., M. Paracuellos, I. de Vicente, J. C. Nevado & L. Cruz-Pizarro, 2008. Response of waterbirds to alternating clear and turbid water phases in two shallow Mediterranean lakes. Aquatic Ecology 42: 701–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Morgan, N. C., 1970. Changes in the fauna and flora of a nutrient enriched lake. Hydrobiologia 35: 545–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Munro, D., 1994. Loch Leven and the River Leven–a landscape transformed. The River Leven Trust, Markinch: 196.Google Scholar
  20. Murphy, K. J. & A. Milligan, 1993. Submerged macrophytes of Loch Leven, Kinross—August 1993. Report to Scottish Natural Heritage, Contract No. 937/F2A/5.3/224). Centre for Research in Environmental Science and Technology. University of Glasgow, Glasgow.Google Scholar
  21. Murray, J. & L. Pullar, 1910. Bathymetrical survey of the freshwater lochs of Scotland, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  22. Penning, W. E., B. Dudley, M. Mjelde, S. Hellsten, J. Hanganu, A. Kolada, M. van den Berg, S. Poikane, G. Phillips, N. Willby & F. Ecke, 2008a. Using aquatic macrophyte community indices to define the ecological status of European lakes. Aquatic Ecology 42: 253–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Penning, W. E., M. Mjelde, B. Dudley, S. Hellsten, J. Hanganu, A. Kolada, M. van den Berg, S. Poikane, G. Phillips, N. Willby & F. Ecke, 2008b. Classifying aquatic macrophytes as indicators of eutrophication in European lakes. Aquatic Ecology 42: 237–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Perrow, M. R., J. H. Schutten, J. R. Howes, T. Holzer, F. J. Madgwick & A. J. D. Jowitt, 1997. Interactions between coot (Fulica atra) and submerged macrophytes: the role of birds in the restoration process. Hydrobiologia 342: 241–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. R Development Core Team, 2008. R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna.Google Scholar
  26. Robson, T. O., 1986. Loch Leven, Kinross macrophyte survey—August 1986. Final report for Contract No HF3-03-208(46). Nature Conservancy Council.Google Scholar
  27. Robson, T. O., 1990. Loch Leven—Kinross: macrophyte survey August 1990. Final Report to Nature Conservancy Council, Kinross. NCC Contract No. 21.F2B.219.DA01.Google Scholar
  28. Salgado, J., S. Sayer, L. Carvalho, T. Davidson & I. Gunn, 2009. Assessing aquatic macrophyte community change through the integration of palaeolimnological and historical data at Loch Leven, Scotland. Journal of Paleolimnology 43: 191–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sand-Jensen, K., N. L. Pedersen, I. Thorsgaard, B. Moeslund, J. Borum & K. P. Brodersen, 2008. 100 years of vegetation decline and recovery in Lake Fure, Denmark. Journal of Ecology 96: 260–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schaumburg, J., C. Schranz, G. Hofmann, D. Stelzer, S. Schneider & U. Schmedtje, 2004. Macrophytes and phytobenthos as indicators of ecological status in German lakes—a contribution to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. Limnologica 34: 302–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Smith, I. R., 1974. The structure and physical environment of Loch Leven, Scotland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Section B-Biological Sciences 74: 81–100.Google Scholar
  32. Søndergaard, M., E. Jeppesen, J. P. Jensen & S. L. Amsinck, 2005. Water framework directive: ecological classification of Danish lakes. Journal of Applied Ecology 42: 616–629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Spears, B. M. & I. D. Jones, 2010. The long-term (1979–2005) effects of the North Atlantic oscillation index on wind-induced wave mixing in Loch Leven (Scotland). Hydrobiologia 646: 49–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Spears B. M., L. Carvalho, R. Perkins, A. Kirika & D. M. Paterson, 2011. Long-term variation and regulation of internal phosphorus loading in Loch Leven. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0921-z
  35. US Environmental Protection Agency, 1998. Lake and reservoir bioassessment and criteria: technical guidance document (No. Report EPA 841-B-98-007), Washington.Google Scholar
  36. van den Berg, M. S., H. Coops, R. Noordhuis, J. van Schie & J. Simons, 1997. Macroinvertebrate communities in relation to submerged vegetation in two Chara-dominated lakes. Hydrobiologia 342: 143–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vestergaard, O. & K. Sand-Jensen, 2000. Aquatic macrophyte richness in Danish lakes in relation to alkalinity, transparency, and lake area. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57: 2022–2031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Warfe, D. M. & L. A. Barmuta, 2006. Habitat structural complexity mediates food web dynamics in a freshwater macrophyte community. Oecologia 150: 141–154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. West, G., 1910. A further contribution to a comparative study of the dominant Phanerogamic and Higher Cryptogamic flora of aquatic habit in Scottish lakes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, B, 30: 170–173, 162 Plates.Google Scholar
  40. Winfield, I. J., C. E. Adams, R. Gardiner, A. Kirika, J. Montgomery, B. Spears, D. Stewart, J. E. Thorpe & W. Wilson, 2011. Changes in the fish community of Loch Leven: untangling anthropogenic pressures. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0925-8.
  41. Wintle, B. A., M. A. McCarthy, K. M. Parris & M. A. Burgman, 2004. Precision and bias of methods for estimating point survey detection probabilities. Ecological Applications 14: 703–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Dudley
    • 1
    Email author
  • I. D. M. Gunn
    • 1
  • L. Carvalho
    • 1
  • I. Proctor
    • 1
  • M. T. O’Hare
    • 1
  • K. J. Murphy
    • 2
  • A. Milligan
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology & HydrologyMidlothianUK
  2. 2.Division of Environmental & Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

Personalised recommendations