Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 411–426 | Cite as

Factors that contributed to recent eutrophication of two Slovenian mountain lakes

  • Gregor Muri
  • Branko Čermelj
  • Radojko Jaćimović
  • Tina Ravnikar
  • Andrej Šmuc
  • Janja Turšič
  • Polona Vreča
Original paper


Increased eutrophication was recently observed in the 5th (5J) and 6th (6J) Triglav Lakes, two remote Slovenian mountain lakes. Sediment phosphorus (P) pools were analysed and potential external P sources affecting the lakes (atmospheric deposition, terrestrial export and nearby hut) evaluated, to assess the effects of internal and external changes on the lakes. A sequential extraction procedure was used to quantify five P fractions from the sediments: adsorbed (NH4Cl–P), redox-sensitive (BD–P), aluminium- (NaOH–P) and calcium- (HCl–P) bound, and refractory organic (Res–P) P. Total phosphorus (TP) contents in surface sediment of 5J and 6J were 1430 and 641 µg P g−1 dry weight sediment (dw), respectively. TP varied with depth in 5J sediments, but displayed no discernible pattern, whereas it decreased steadily downcore in 6J. Contents of all P forms were distinctly higher in 5J than 6J, but their rank order and relative abundances were similar in the two lakes. Res–P was the most abundant P fraction, followed by HCl–P. Together, the two P forms accounted for nearly 80 and 90% of TP in 5J and 6J sediments, respectively. BD–P and NaOH–P were less abundant, with each fraction accounting for 3 to 9% of TP, whereas NH4Cl–P was least abundant. Atmospheric deposition and terrestrial export were substantial sources of P for the lakes. Delivery of the former was estimated to be at least 7.5 mg P m−2 yr−1 and the latter around 20 mg P m−2 yr−1. We concluded that P was not retained in the catchment effectively, likely because of only slightly acidic soil pH (5.9), relatively low aluminium content and high organic matter content (53%) in soils, resulting in higher vulnerability of the studied lakes to eutrophication. The mountain hut could also be a significant source of P for the lakes. Each year, it could potentially contribute ~12 kg of soluble P to the environment, but the true impact of the hut on lake trophic status remains unclear.


Double lake-Dvojno jezero Sediment Sequential extraction Phosphorus speciation Atmospheric deposition Terrestrial export Mountain hut Julian Alps 



The authors would like to thank colleagues and students at the Department of Geology, Jožef Stefan Institute, the National Institute of Biology and the Slovenian Environment Agency, for their support, help and fruitful discussions both in the field and the laboratory. This study was performed as part of research programmes P1-0143, P1-0195, P1-0237 and I0-0004, funded by the Slovenian Research Agency. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers and the editors for their helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10933_2017_9996_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (41 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 40 kb)


  1. Andjelov M (2012) Regional distribution of geochemical elements in Slovenian soils. RMZ–Mater Geoenviron 59: 125–140 (in Slovenian, English abstract) Google Scholar
  2. Arnaud F (2005) Discriminating bio-induced and detrital sedimentary processes from particle size distribution of carbonates and non-carbonates in hard water lake sediments. J Paleolimnol 34:519–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batjes NH (2011) Global distribution of soil phosphorus retention potential. ISRIC Report 2011/06, Wageningen, NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  4. Battarbee RW, Kernan M, Rose N (2009) Threatened and stressed mountain lakes in Europe: assessment and progress. Aquat Ecosyst Health Manag 12:118–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brancelj A (1999) The extinction of Arctodiaptomus alpinus (Copepoda) following the introduction of char into a small alpine lake Dvojno jezero (NW Slovenia). Aquat Ecol 33:355–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brancelj A (ed) (2002) High-mountain lakes in the eastern part of the Julian Alps. ZRC Publishing, LjubljanaGoogle Scholar
  7. Burns DA (2004) The effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and southern Wyoming, USA–a critical review. Environ Pollut 127:257–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Camarero L, Catalan J (2012) Atmospheric phosphorus deposition may cause lakes to revert from phosphorus limitation back to nitrogen limitation. Nat Commun 3:1118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Camarero L, Rogora M, Mosello R, Anderson NJ, Barbieri A, Botev I, Kernan M, Kopacek J, Korhola A, Lotter AF, Muri G, Postolache C, Stuchlik E, Thies H, Wright RF (2009) Regionalisation of chemical variability in European mountain lakes. Freshwat Biol 54:2452–2469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carey CC, Rydin E (2011) Lake trophic status can be determined by the depth distribution of sediment phosphorus. Limnol Oceanogr 56:2051–2063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dolinar M (ed) (2010) Spremenljivost podnebja v Sloveniji. Slovenian Environment Agency, Ljubljana, pp 1–12 (in Slovenian) Google Scholar
  12. EN ISO 6878 (2004) Water quality–determination of phosphorus–ammonium molybdate spectrometric methodGoogle Scholar
  13. Enders SK, Pagani M, Pantoja S, Baron JS, Wolfe AP, Pedentchouk N, Nuñez L (2008) Compound-specific stable isotopes of organic compounds from lake sediments track recent environmental changes in an alpine ecosystem, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Limnol Oceanogr 53:1468–1478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Erhartič B (2004) Estimation of constructed wetlands applicability at Triglav national park mountain huts. Diploma Thesis, University of Ljubljana (in Slovenian, English abstract) Google Scholar
  15. Gąsiorowski M, Sienkiewicz E (2013) The Sources of Carbon and Nitrogen in Mountain Lakes and the Role of Human Activity in Their Modification Determined by Tracking Stable Isotope Composition. Water Air Soil Pollut 224:1498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hejzlar J, Šamalova K, Boers P, Kronvang B (2006) Modelling phosphorus retention in lakes and reservoirs. Water Air Soil Pollut Focus 6:487–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Henze M, van Loosdrecht MCM, Ekama GA, Brdjanovic D (eds) (2008) Biological wastewater treatment Principles, modelling and design. IWA Publishing, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Hiriart-Baer VP, Milne JE, Marvin CH (2011) Temporal trends in phosphorus and lacustrine productivity in Lake Simcoe inferred from lake sediment. J Great Lakes Res 37:764–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Holtgrieve GW, Schindler DE, Hobbs WO, Leavitt PR, Ward EJ, Bunting L, Chen G, Finney BP, Gregory-Eaves I, Holmgren S, Lisac MJ, Lisi PJ, Nydick K, Rogers LA, Saros JE, Selbie DT, Shapley MD, Walsh PB, Wolfe AP (2011) A coherent signature of anthropogenic nitrogen deposition to remote watersheds of the northern hemisphere. Science 334:1545–1548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Homyak PM, Sickman JO, Melack JM (2014) Phosphorus in sediments of high-elevation lakes in the Sierra Nevada (California): implications for internal phosphorus loading. Aquat Sci 76:511–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hupfer M, Zak D, Rossberg R, Herzog C, Pöthig R (2009) Evaluation of a well-established sequential phosphorus fractionation technique for use in calcite-rich lake sediments: identification and prevention of artifacts due to apatite formation. Limnol Oceanogr Methods 7:399–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jensen HS, McGlathery KJ, Marino R, Howarth RW (1998) Forms and availability of sediment phosphorus in carbonate sand of Bermuda sea grass beds. Limnol Oceanogr 43:799–810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jerebic A (2008) Model of effluent treatment from mountain huts located above high-mountain lakes. Diploma Thesis, University of Maribor (in Slovenian, English abstract) Google Scholar
  24. Kaiserli A, Voutsa D, Samara C (2002) Phosphorus fractionation in lake sediments–Lakes Volvi and Koronia, N. Greece. Chemosphere 46:1147–1155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kalbitz K, Solinger S, Park JH, Michalzik B, Matzner E (2000) Controls on the dynamics of dissolved organic matter in soils: a review. Soil Sci 16:277–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kaňa J, Kopaček J, Camarero L, Garcia-Pausas J (2011) Phosphate sorption characteristics of European alpine soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 75:862–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kastelec D (1999) Use of universal kriging for objective spatial interpolation of average yearly precipitation in Slovenia. Res Rep Biotech Fac Univ Ljublj Agric 73:301–314 (in Slovenian, English abstract) Google Scholar
  28. Kopaček J, Hejzlar J, Vrba J, Stuchlik E (2011) Phosphorus loading of mountain lakes: terrestrial export and atmospheric deposition. Limnol Oceanogr 56:1343–1354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Morales-Baquero R, Pulido-Villena E, Reche I (2006) Atmospheric inputs of phosphorus and nitrogen to the southwest Mediterranean region: biogeochemical responses of high mountain lakes. Limnol Oceanogr 51:830–837CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mosello R, Brizzio MC, Kotzias D, Marchetto A, Rembges D, Tartari G (2002) The chemistry of atmospheric deposition in Italy in the framework of the national programme for forest ecosystems control (CONECOFOR). J Limnol 61(Suppl 1):77–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muri G (2004) Physico-chemical characteristics of lake water in 14 Slovenian mountain lakes. Acta Chim Slov 51:257–272Google Scholar
  32. Muri G (2013) Atmospheric deposition chemistry in a subalpine area of the Julian Alps, North-West Slovenia. J Limnol 72:291–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Muri G, Čermelj B, Jaćimović R, Skaberne D, Šmuc A, Burnik Šturm M, Turšič J, Vreča P (2013) Consequences of anthropogenic activity for two remote alpine lakes in NW Slovenia as tracked by sediment geochemistry. J Paleolimnol 50:457–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Odar M, Brancelj A (2009) Sources of the coliform bacteria in the lake Bohinjsko jezero. Int J Sanit Eng Res 3:6–14Google Scholar
  35. Ogrinc N, Žagar M, Faganeli J, Kanduč T, Vreča P (2008) Methane formation in a remote mountain lake (Lake Planina, NW Slovenia). Geomicrobiol J 25:346–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ostrofsky ML (2012) Differential post-depositional mobility of phosphorus species in lake sediments. J Paleolimnol 48:559–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Psenner R, Pucsko R (1988) Phosphorus fractionation: advantages and limits of the method for the study of sediment P origins and interactions. Arch Hydrobiol Beih 30:43–59Google Scholar
  38. Ravnikar T, Bohanec M, Muri G (2016) Monitoring and assessment of anthropogenic activities in mountain lakes: a case of the Fifth Triglav Lake in the Julian Alps. Environ Monit Assess 188:253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. ROTS (2007) Research of soil pollution in Slovenia. Infrastructural Centre for Soil and Environmental Science, University of Ljubljana (in Slovenian) Google Scholar
  40. Ruban V, López-Sánchez JF, Pardo P, Rauret G, Muntau H, Quevauviller Ph (1999) Selection and evaluation of sequential extraction procedures for the determination of phosphorus forms in lake sediment. J Environ Monit 1:51–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schindler DW (2006) Recent advances in the understanding and management of eutrophication. Limnol Oceanogr 51:356–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Šega P (2013) Validation of the method for the determination of forms of sedimentary phosphorus by sequential extraction. Diploma Thesis, University of Ljubljana (in Slovenian, English abstract) Google Scholar
  43. Selig U (2003) Particle size-related phosphate binding and P-release at the sediment–water interface in a shallow German lake. Hydrobiologia 492:107–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Šmuc A, Rožič B (2009) Tectonic geomorphology of the Triglav Lakes Valley (easternmost Southern Alps, NW Slovenia). Geomorphology 103:597–604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Søndergaard M, Windolf J, Jeppesen E (1996) Phosphorus fractions and profiles in the sediment of shallow Danish lakes as related to phosphorus load, sediment composition and lake chemistry. Water Res 30:992–1002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Torres IC, Inglett PW, Brenner M, Kenney WF, Ramesh Reddy K (2012) Stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) values of sediment organic matter in subtropical lakes of different trophic status. J Paleolimnol 47:693–706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Vet R, Artz RS, Carou S, Shawa M, Ro C-U, Aas W, Baker A, Bowersox VC, Dentener F, Galy-Lacaux C, Hou A, Pienaar JJ, Gillett R, Forti MC, Gromov S, Hara H, Khodzherm T, Mahowald NM, Nickovic S, Rao PSP, Reid NW (2014) A global assessment of precipitation chemistry and deposition of sulfur, nitrogen, sea salt, base cations, organic acids, acidity and pH, and phosphorus. Atmos Environ 93:3–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Vollenweider RA (1976) Advances in defining critical loading levels for phosphorus in lake eutrophication. Mem Ist Ital Idrobiol 33:53–83Google Scholar
  49. Vreča P (2000) Cycling of biogenic elements in the eutrophic high mountain lake Jezero na Planini pri Jezeru. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Ljubljana (in Slovenian, English abstract) Google Scholar
  50. Vreča P, Muri G (2006) Changes in accumulation of organic matter and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in sediments of two Slovenian mountain lakes (Lake Ledvica and Lake Planina), induced by eutrophication changes. Limnol Oceanogr 51:781–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vreča P, Muri G (2010) Sediment organic matter in mountain lakes of north-western Slovenia and its stable isotopic signatures: records of natural and anthropogenic impacts. Hydrobiologia 648:35–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wang C, Zhang Y, Li H, John Morison R (2013) Sequential extraction procedures for the determination of phosphorus forms in sediments. Limnology 14:147–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wilson TA, Amirbahman A, Norton SA, Voytek MA (2010) A record of phosphorus dynamics in oligotrophic lake sediment. J Paleolimnol 44:279–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wuenscher R, Unterfrauner H, Peticzka R, Zehetner F (2015) A comparison of 14 soil phosphorus extraction methods applied to 50 agricultural soils from Central Europe. Plant Soil Environ 61:86–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Slovenian Environment AgencyLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Marine Biology StationNational Institute of BiologyPiranSlovenia
  3. 3.Department of Environmental SciencesJožef Stefan InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia
  4. 4.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Nova GoricaNova GoricaSlovenia
  5. 5.Department of Geology, Faculty of Natural Sciences and EngineeringUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

Personalised recommendations