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Nutrient limitation in a tropical saline lake: a microcosm experiment

Abstract

There is increasing evidence that nitrogen limitation is of widespread occurrence in tropical lakes. Nonetheless, data on the deep tropical Lake Alchichica (Mexico) show that dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) to soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) ratio fluctuates widely. To elucidate further the role of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation on the phytoplankton growth in tropical saline lakes, we present the results of a series of nutrient enrichment experiments with natural assemblages of Lake Alchichica phytoplankton conducted monthly for a year. Our assays indicate that phosphorus and nitrogen alternate in limiting Lake Alchichica phytoplankton biomass. Phosphorous limited phytoplankton growth most (41.7%) of the time, followed by nitrogen (33.3% of the time), and both nutrients for the rest of the time (25.0%). This alternation in nitrogen and phosphorus responsible for phytoplankton growth limitation in Lake Alchichica is attributed to the combination of natural conditions (e.g., young volcanic terrain rich in phosphorus) that would favor nitrogen limitation and anthropogenic impacts (e.g., agricultural nitrogen fertilization) which would cause phosphorus limitation.

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Acknowledgments

This investigation was partially supported by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología grant 41667 to JA. The authors thank Erik Ramos (Programa de PCMyL, UNAM) for field and laboratory assistance, Laura Peralta (FES Iztacala, UNAM) for field support, Sergio Castillo (ICMyL, UNAM) for nutrient analysis, and Luis A. Oseguera (FES Iztacala, UNAM) for field and desk support. The authors acknowledge Rosa Luz Tavera (Facultad de Ciencias, UNAM), Miroslav Macek (FES Iztacala, UNAM), and Fernando W. Bernal-Brooks (INIRENA, UMSNH) for helpful suggestions and comments on the planning of this investigation. M.A. Ramírez-Olvera thanks Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas (UNAM).

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Correspondence to Javier Alcocer.

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Guest Editors: J. John & B. Timms

Salt Lake Research: Biodiversity and Conservation—Selected papers from the 9th Conference of the International Society for Salt Lake Research

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Ramírez-Olvera, M.A., Alcocer, J., Merino-Ibarra, M. et al. Nutrient limitation in a tropical saline lake: a microcosm experiment. Hydrobiologia 626, 5–13 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-009-9733-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-009-9733-9

Keywords

  • Phytoplankton
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • AGP
  • Lake Alchichica
  • Mexico