Changes in aquatic macrophyte communities in Loch Leven: evidence of recovery from eutrophication?
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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.
KeywordsLake 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 (http://www.ecn.ac.uk).
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