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Hydrobiological Bulletin

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 73–83 | Cite as

Alternative stable states in eutrophic, shallow freshwater systems: A minimal model

  • M. Scheffer
Article

Abstract

A simple mathematical model was constructed, describing the relationships between pike, bream, aquatic macrophytes and the nutrient loading of shallow lakes. The model is analyzed with the use of zero-isoclines. It is concluded that, over a certain range of nutrient concentrations, the ecological relations incorporated in the model can give rise to the existence of two alternative stable equilibria;viz. a turbid bream-dominated one, and a clear state in which pike and aquatic vegetation are abundant. Under oligotrophic conditions, the clear-water state represents the only stable equilibrium; however, at high nutrient levels, the clear state is absent, or only locally stable. The response of the model to both increase and decrease of the nutrient level is characterised by hysteresis. The results indicate that manipulation of fish densities as a measure to improve water quality is only likely to produce long-term results when the nutrient level is below a certain threshold.

KeyWords

model fish vegetation eutrophication stability 

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Copyright information

© Netherlands Hydrobiological Society 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Scheffer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment Lelystad, The NetherlandsLelystadThe Netherlands

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