Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 169, Issue 1–4, pp 237–248 | Cite as

Factors regulating trophic status in a large subtropical reservoir, China

  • Yaoyang Xu
  • Qinghua CaiEmail author
  • Xinqin Han
  • Meiling Shao
  • Ruiqiu Liu


We evaluated a 4-year data set (July 2003 to June 2007) to assess the trophic state and its limiting factors of Three-Gorges Reservoir (TGR), China, a large subtropical reservoir. Based on Carlson-type trophic state index (TSI)CHL, the trophic state of the system was oligotrophic (TSIS < 40) in most months after the reservoir became operational, although both TSITP and TSITN were higher than the critical value of eutrophic state (TSIS > 50). Using Carlson’s (1991) two-dimensional approach, deviations of the TSIS indicated that factors other than phosphorus and nitrogen limited algal growth and that nonalgal particles affected light attenuation. These findings were further supported by the significant correlation among the values of TSICHL − TSISD and nonvolatile suspended solids and water residence time. The logarithmic model showed that an equivalent TSICHL and TSISD could be found at τ = 54 days in the TGR (Fig. 7). Accordingly, nonalgal particulates dominated light attenuation and limited algal biomass of the reservoir when τ < 54 days.


Trophic state Hydrological factors Three-Gorges Reservoir Empirical models 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Public Health Association (APHA) (1989). Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater (17th ed.). Washington, DC: American Water Works Association, and Water Pollution Control Federation.Google Scholar
  2. An, K. G., & Park, S. S. (2003). Influence of seasonal monsoon on the trophic state deviation in an Asian reservoir. Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 145, 267–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brett, M. T., & Benjamin, M. M. (2008). A review and reassessment of lake phosphorus retention and the nutrient loading concept. Freshwater Biology, 53, 194–211.Google Scholar
  4. Burford, M. A., Johnson, S. A., Cook, A. J., Packer, T. V., Taylor, B. M., & Townsley, E. R. (2007). Correlations between watershed and reservoir characteristics, and algal blooms in subtropical reservoirs. Water Research, 41, 4105–4114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cai, Q. H., & Hu, Z. Y. (2006). Studies on eutrophication problem and control strategy in the Three Gorges Reservoir. Acta Hydrobiologica Sinica, 30, 7–11 (in Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  6. Carlson, R. E. (1977). A trophic state index for lakes. Limnology and Oceanography, 22, 361–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carlson, R. E. (1991). Expanding the trophic state concept to identify non-nutrient limited lakes and reservoirs. In L. Carpenter (Ed.), Proceedings of a national conference on enhancing the states’ lake management programs (pp. 59–71). Chicago: USEPA.Google Scholar
  8. Carpenter, S. R., Caraco, N. F., Correll, D. L., Howarth, R. W., Sharpley, A. N., & Smith, V. H. (1998). Nonpoint pollution of surface waters with phosphorus and nitrogen. Ecological Applications, 8, 559–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carpenter, S. R., Ludwig, D., & Brock, W. A. (1999). Management of eutrophication for lakes subject to potentially irreversible change. Ecological Applications, 9, 751–771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen, X., Yan, Y., Fu, R., Dou, X., & Zhang, E. (2007). Sediment transport from the Yangtze River, China, into the sea over the Post-Three Gorge Dam Period: A discussion. Quaternary International, 186, 55–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dodds, W., & Cole, J. (2007). Expanding the concept of trophic state in aquatic ecosystems: It’s not just the autotrophs. Aquatic Sciences, 69, 427–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) (1997). Lake Michigan mass balance, methods compendium: LMMB 065 (ESS method 340.2) (Vol. 3). Chicago: USEPA.Google Scholar
  13. Ferris, J. A., & Lehman, J. T. (2007). Interannual variation in diatom bloom dynamics: Roles of hydrology, nutrient limitation, sinking, and whole lake manipulation. Water Research, 41, 2551–2562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedl, G., & Wüest, A. (2002). Disrupting biogeochemical cycles—consequences of damming. Aquatic Sciences, 64, 55–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gemmer, M., Jiang, T., Su, B., & Kundzewicz, Z. W. (2008). Seasonal precipitation changes in the wet season and their influence on flood/drought hazards in the Yangtze River Basin, China. Quaternary International, 186, 12–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Genkai-Kato, M., & Carpenter, S. R. (2005). Eutrophication due to phosphorus recycling in relation to lake morphometry, temperature, and macrophytes. Ecology, 86, 210–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. George, D. G., & Hurley, M. A. (2003). Using a continuous function for residence time to quantify the impact of climate change on the dynamics of thermally stratified lakes. Journal of Limnology, 62, 21–26.Google Scholar
  18. Ha, K., Jang, M. H., & Joo, G. J. (2003). Winter Stephanodiscus bloom development in the Nakdong River regulated by an estuary dam and tributaries. Hydrobiologia, 506–509, 221–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Havens, K. E. (2000). Using trophic state index (TSI) values to draw inferences regarding phytoplankton limiting factors and seston composition from routine water quality monitoring data. Korean Journal of Limnology, 33, 187–196.Google Scholar
  20. Howarth, R. W., & Roxanne, M. (2006). Nitrogen as the limiting nutrient for eutrophication in coastal marine ecosystems: Evolving views over three decades. Limnology and Oceanography, 51, 364–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huang, X. F., Chen, W. M., & Cai, Q. M. (2000). Survery, observation and analysis of lake ecology. Beijing: Standards Press of China (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  22. Huang, Z. L., Li, Y. L., Chen, Y. C., & Li, J. X. (2006). Water quality prediction and water environmental carrying capacity calculation for Three Gorges Reservoir. Beijing: China Water Power (in Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  23. Jones, I. D., & Elliott, J. A. (2007). Modelling the effects of changing retention time on abundance and composition of phytoplankton species in a small lake. Freshwater Biology, 52, 988–997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kagalou, I., Papastergiadoub, E., & Leonardosa, I. (2008). Long term changes in the eutrophication process in a shallow Mediterranean lake ecosystem of W. Greece: Response after the reduction of external load. Journal of Environmental Management, 87, 497–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kasai, H., Saito, H., Yoshimori, A., & Taguchi, S. (1997). Variability in timing and magnitude of spring bloom in the Oyashio region, the western subarctic Pacific off Hokkaido, Japan. Fisheries Oceanography, 6, 118–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kratzer, C. R., & Brezonik, P. L. (1981). A Carlson-type trophic state index for nitrogen in Florida lakes. Water Resources Bulletin, 17, 713–715.Google Scholar
  27. Lehman, J. T., Platte, R. A., & Ferris, J. A. (2007). Role of hydrology in development of a vernal clear water phase in an urban impoundment. Freshwater Biology, 52, 1773–1781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Matthews, R., Hilles, M., & Pelletier, G. (2002). Determining trophic state in Lake Whatcom, Washington (USA), a soft water lake exhibiting seasonal nitrogen limitation. Hydrobiologia, 468, 107–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Osgood, R. A. (1982). Using differences among Carlson’s trophic state index values in regional water quality assessment. Water Resources Bulletin, 18, 67–74.Google Scholar
  30. Portielje, R., & Molen, D. T. V. D. (1999). Relationships between eutrophication variables: From nutrient loading to transparency. Hydrobiologia, 408/409, 375–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schindler, D. W. (2006). Recent advances in the understanding and management of eutrophication. Limnology and Oceanography, 51, 356–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shao, M., Xie, Z., Han, X., Cao, M., & Cai, Q. (2008). Macroinvertebrate community structure in Three-Gorges Reservoir, China. International Review of Hydrobiology, 93, 175–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Smith, V. H., Tilman, G. D., & Nekola, J. C. (1999). Eutrophication: Impacts of excess nutrient inputs on freshwater, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems. Environmental Pollution, 100, 179–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Straškraba, M., & Tundisi, J. G. (1999). Guidelines of lake management: Reservoir water quality management (Vol. 9). Shiga: International Lake Environment Committee.Google Scholar
  35. Verspagen, J. M. H., Passarge, J., Johnk, K. D., Visser, P. M., Peperzak, L., Boers, P., et al. (2006). Water management strategies against toxic microcystis blooms in the Dutch delta. Ecological Applications, 16, 313–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang, J., Wang, B. S., & Luo, Z. Q. (1997). Dictionary of the Yangtze River. Wuhan: Wuhan (in Chinese).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yaoyang Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Qinghua Cai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xinqin Han
    • 1
    • 2
  • Meiling Shao
    • 3
  • Ruiqiu Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of HydrobiologyChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Graduate UniversityChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.College of Life ScienceAnhui Normal UniversityWuhuPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations