Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 393–403 | Cite as

A sediment record of trophic state change in an Arkansas (USA) reservoir

  • Byron Winston
  • Sonja Hausmann
  • Jaime Escobar
  • William F. Kenney
Original paper


Reservoir sediments are used cautiously in paleolimnological studies because of dating uncertainties, possible sediment disturbances and even concerns that indicators of trophic status may behave differently in reservoirs as opposed to natural lakes. We measured loss on ignition (LOI), carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N), diatom abundance, total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), TN:TP ratio, and carbon and nitrogen isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) in an 83-cm sediment core to track recent trophic status changes in Beaver Reservoir, Northwest Arkansas, USA. Measurements showed that LOI, TN, TP and diatom abundance increased significantly from the bottom to the top of the core (p < 0.001). The C:N ratio and δ13C indicated a predominantly algal source for organic matter in the sediments. Increases in TN and TP were positively correlated with human population growth (p < 0.01) and the TN:TP ratio recorded a shift from phosphorus to nitrogen limitation around 1990. This shift may have encouraged cyanobacterial growth that caused episodes of taste and odor problems in the reservoir. This study suggests that despite concerns about sediment dating and disturbance, reservoir sediments can provide valuable information on past water quality changes.


Paleolimnology Reservoir Sediments Water quality Geochemistry 



We thank the Beaver Water District for assistance with fieldwork, and Anna Nottemeir. We also thank Troy Munhofen and Lanayah Turley, NSF-funded REU students who assisted with stable isotope measurements during the summer of 2009. Funding for this project was provided by the Arkansas Water Resource Center, Beaver Water District and a USGS 104B Grant.


  1. Altabet MA, Francois R (1994) Sedimentary nitrogen isotopic ratio as a recorder for surface ocean nitrate utilization. Global Biogeochem Cycles 8:103–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Appleby PG, Oldfield F (1978) The calculation of 210Pb dates assuming a constant rate of supply of unsupported 210Pb to the sediment. Catena 5:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batterbee RW, Kneen MJ (1982) The use of electronically counted microspheres in absolute diatom analysis. Limnol Oceanogr 27:184–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bernasconi SM, Barbieri A, Simona M (1997) Carbon and nitrogen isotope variations in sedimenting organic matter in Lake Lugano. Limnol Oceanogr 42:1755–1765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cole J, Caraco NF, Kling GW, Kratz TK (1994) Carbon dioxide supersaturation in the surface waters of lakes. Science 265:1568–1570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Costa-Böddeker S, Bennion H, de Jesus TA, Albuquerque ALS, Figueira RCL (2012) Paleolimnologically inferred eutrophication of a shallow tropical, urban reservoir in Southeast Brazil. J Paleolimnol 48:751–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davis JV, Bell RW (1998) Water quality assessment of the ozark plateaus study unit, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma: nutrients, bacteria, organic carbon, and suspended sediment in surface water, 1993–95. US Geological Survey Water Resources Investigations Report Publication 98–4164Google Scholar
  8. Filstrup CT, Scott JT, Lind OT (2009) Allochthonous organic matter supplements and sediment transport in a polymictic reservoir determined using elemental and isotopic ratios. Biogeochemistry 96:87–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Filstrup CT, Scott JT, White DJ, Lind OT (2010) Use of element and isotopic compositions to record the eutrophication of a polymictic reservoir in central Texas, USA. Lake Reserv Manag 15:25–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Flynn WW (1968) The determination of low levels of Po-210 in environmental materials. Anal Chim Acta 43:221–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Galloway JM, Green WR (2006) Analysis of ambient conditions and simulation of hydrodynamics and water quality characteristics in Beaver Lake, Arkansas, 2001 through 2003. US Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006–5003Google Scholar
  12. Grantz EM, Kogo A, Scott JT (2012) Partitioning whole-lake denitrification using in situ dinitrogen gas accumulation and intact sediment core experiments. Limnol Oceanogr 57:925–935CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Green WR (1996) Eutrophication trends inferred from hypolimnetic dissolved oxygen dynamics within selected white river reservoirs, northern Arkansas—southern Missouri 1974–1994. US Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 1996–4096Google Scholar
  14. Gu B, Schelske CL, Hodell DA (2004) Extreme 13C enrichments in a shallow hypereutrophic lake: implications for carbon cycling. Limnol Oceanogr 49:1152–1159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gu B, Chapman AD, Schelske CL (2006) Factors controlling seasonal variations in stable isotope composition of particulate organic matter in a soft water eutrophic lake. Limnol Oceanogr 51:2837–2848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haggard BE, Green WR (2002) Simulation of hydronamics, temperature and dissolved oxygen in Beaver Lake, Arkansas, 1994–1995. US Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2002–4116Google Scholar
  17. Haggard BE, Moore PA, Chaubey I, Stanley EH (2003) Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations and export from an Ozark Plateau catchment in the United States. Biosyst Eng 86:75–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hecky RE, Hesslein RH (1995) Contributions of benthic algae to lake food webs as revealed by stable isotope analysis. J N Am Benthol Soc 14:631–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heiri O, Lotter AF, Lemcke G (2001) Loss on ignition as a method for estimating organic and carbonate content in sediments: reproducibility and comparability of results. J Paleolimnol 25:101–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hodell DA, Schelske CL (1998) Production, sedimentation, and isotopic composition of organic matter in Lake Ontario. Limnol Oceanogr 43:200–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Interlandi SJ, Kilham SS, Theriot EC (1999) Response of phytoplankton to varied resource availability in large lakes of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Limnol Oceanogr 44:668–682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Meyers PA, Lallier-Vergès E (1999) Lacustrine sedimentary organic matter records of Late Quartenary paleoclimates. J Paleolimnol 21:345–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mizutani M, Wada H (1982) Effect of high atmospheric CO2 concentrations on δ13C of algae. Origins Life Evol B 12:377–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mullholand MR, Bernhardt PW, Heil CA, Bronk DA, O’Neil JM (2006) Nitrogen fixation and release of fixed nitrogen by Trichodesmium spp. in the Gulf of Mexico. Limnol Oceanogr 51:1762–1776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. National Eutrophication Survey (1977). Report on beaver, table rock, and bull shoals reservoirs, arkansas and taneycomo reservoir, missouri. Working Paper No. 480. USEPA, regions VI and VIIGoogle Scholar
  26. NOAA National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (2009) Accessed June 2009. Monthly Statistics Available at
  27. Oldfield F, Appleby PG (1984) Empirical testing of 210Pb-dating models for lake sediments. In: Haworth EY, Lund JWG (eds) Lake sediments and environmental history. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, pp 93–124Google Scholar
  28. Petersen JC (1992) Trends in stream water quality data in Arkansas during several time periods between 1975 and 1989. US Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigation Report, Publication 92–4044Google Scholar
  29. Révész K, Haiping Qi (2006) Determination of the δ (15N/14N) and δ (13C/12C) of total N and C in solids: RSIL lab code 1832, chap. C5 of Révész K and Coplen TB (eds) Methods of the reston stable isotope laboratory: Reston Virginia, US Geological Survey, Techniques and Methods, book 10, sec. C, chap. 5, 31Google Scholar
  30. Robbins JA (1978) Geochemical and geophysical applications of radioactive lead isotopes. In: Nriago JP (ed) Biogeochemistry of lead. North Holland, Amsterdam, pp 285–393Google Scholar
  31. Rosenmeier MF, Brenner M, Kenney W, Whitmore TJ, Taylor CM (2004) Recent eutrophication in the southern basin of Lake Petén Itzá, Guatemala: human impact on a large tropical lake. J Paleolimnol 511:161–172Google Scholar
  32. Savage C, Leavitt PR, Elmgren R (2004) Distribution and retention of effluent nitrogen in surface sediments of a coastal bay. Limnol Oceanogr 49:1503–1511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Shotbolt LA, Thomas AD, Hutchinson SM (2005) The use of reservoir sediments as environmental archives of catchment inputs and atmospheric pollution. Prog Phys Geogr 29:337–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shotbolt L, Hutchinson SM, Thomas AD (2006) Sediment stratigraphy and heavy metal fluxes to reservoirs in the southern Pennine uplands, UK. J Paleolimnol 35:305–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Slaton AN, Brye RK, Daniels MB, Daniel CT, Norman JR, Miller MD (2004) Nutrient input and removal trends for agricultural soils in nine geographic regions in Arkansas. J Environ Qual 33:1606–1615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith VH (1982) The nitrogen and phosphorus dependence of algal biomass in lakes. An emperical and theoretical analysis. Limnol Oceanogr 27:1101–1112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry: the principles and practice of statistics in biological research, 3rd edn. W. H. Freeman and Company, NYGoogle Scholar
  38. Talbot MR, Laerdal T (2000) The late Pleistocene-Holocene paleolimnology of Lake Victoria, East Africa, based upon elemental and isotopic analyses of sedimentary organic matter. J Paleolimnol 23:141–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Teranes JL, Bernasconi SM (2000) The record of nitrate utilization and productivity limitation provided by d15 N values in lake organic matter—a study of sediment trap and core sediments from Baldeggersee, Switzerland. Limnol Oceanogr 45:801–813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Torres IC, Inglett PW, Brenner M, Kenney WF, Reddy RK (2012) Stable isotope (δ13C and δ15N) signatures of sediment organic matter in subtropical lakes of different trophic status. J Paleolimnol l47:693–706. doi: 10.1007/s10933-012-9593-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. United States Census Bureau (2000) Population by county and place census 2000: Available at
  42. USDA-NASS (2010) 2010 Census of agriculture: state and county profiles. Available at
  43. Verburg P (2007) The need to correct for the Suess effect in the application of δ13C in sediment of autotrophic Lake Tanganika, as a productivity proxy in the Anthropocene. J Paleolimnol 37:591–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Watson SB (2003) Cyanobacterial and eukaryotic algal odor compounds: signals or byproducts? A review of their biological activity. Phycologia 42:332–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Woodward AC, Polito PA, Beilman WD (2012) Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in surface sediments from lakes of western Ireland: implications for inferring past lake productivity and nitrogen loading. J Paleolimnol 47:167–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Youngstead NW (2005) Factors that influence phosphorus, filamentous cyanobacteria and odor in McDaniel Lake, a Southwest Missouri water supply reservoir, 1983–2002. Lake Reserv Manag 21:453–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zalat A, Vildary SS (2007) Environmental change in Northern Egyptian Delta lakes during the late Holocene, based on diatom analysis. J Paleolimnol 37:273–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Byron Winston
    • 1
  • Sonja Hausmann
    • 2
  • Jaime Escobar
    • 3
    • 4
  • William F. Kenney
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Departamento de Ingeniería Civil y AmbientalUniversidad del NorteBarranquillaColombia
  4. 4.Center for Tropical Paleoecology and ArchaeologySmithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)Panama CityPanama
  5. 5.Land Use and Environmental Change InstituteUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations