, Volume 698, Issue 1, pp 61–75 | Cite as

Temperature modulated effects of nutrients on phytoplankton changes in a mountain lake

  • Monica TolottiEmail author
  • Hansjörg Thies
  • Ulrike Nickus
  • Roland Psenner


Piburger See, a dimictic mountain lake in Austria, experienced moderate cultural eutrophication in the 1950s. Lake restoration led to a re-oligotrophication in the 1990s with a decrease in seasonal phytoplankton biovolume until the late 1990s, but a reversed trend from the early 2000s onwards. We hypothesize that recent changes in phytoplankton biomass and functional structure are triggered by changes in lake nitrogen and silica concentrations, and we expect climate-related factors to modulate the trophic status of Piburger See. Phytoplankton data were analyzed by non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) applied on biovolume of morpho-functional groups, combined with correlation analyses of environmental variables. Since the 2000s, short-term changes in phytoplankton of Piburger See were explained by varying concentrations and ratios of nitrogen and silica, while the inter-annual variability in phytoplankton species composition was rather attributed to superimposed rising water temperature and lake thermal stability. Our results underline the co-dominant role of phosphorus and nitrogen as phytoplankton drivers in lakes that experience periods of nitrogen limitation. The combined impact of nutrients and climate on phytoplankton development can thus mimic short-term increases in the trophic level of less productive lakes.


Mountain lakes Phytoplankton Morpho-functional groups Nutrients Climate change Multivariate analysis 



Financial support for this study was provided by the European Commission through the RTD projects CLIME (EVK1-CT-2002-00121) and Euro-limpacs (GOCE-CT-2003-505540), the Austrian Ministry of Science (BMBWK) and the Community of Oetz (Austria). A special thank is due to: Joseph Franzoi, Institute of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, for field work, chemical analyses and chlorophyll determination; Elisabeth Carli and Pamela Analetti for phytoplankton counts and biovolume determination; two anonymous referees for carefully reading the paper and providing thoughtful suggestions.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 83 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica Tolotti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hansjörg Thies
    • 2
  • Ulrike Nickus
    • 3
  • Roland Psenner
    • 2
  1. 1.IASMA Research and Innovation CentreE. Mach FoundationS. Michele all’AdigeItaly
  2. 2.Institute of EcologyUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  3. 3.Institute of Meteorology and GeophysicsUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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