, Volume 770, Issue 1, pp 145–164 | Cite as

Drought-induced water-level reduction favors cyanobacteria blooms in tropical shallow lakes

  • Jandeson BrasilEmail author
  • José L. Attayde
  • Francisco R. Vasconcelos
  • Danyhelton D. F. Dantas
  • Vera L. M. Huszar
Primary Research Paper


Many arid and semiarid regions are likely to become warmer and drier by the end of this century, due to human-induced climate change. We hypothesize that a reduction in water level caused by droughts will aggravate eutrophication, leading to higher cyanobacteria biomass and dominance in tropical regions. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed physical and chemical variables and plankton communities of 40 man-made lakes in warm semiarid northeastern Brazil at the end of the wet and dry seasons. We also constructed a predictive model of cyanobacteria biovolume in these lakes. The lakes had significantly lower water volume, transparency, and CO2 concentrations but higher water temperature, water column stability, electrical conductivity, pH, suspended solids, ammonium, total nitrogen concentrations, bacteria biomass, phytoplankton biomass, and cyanobacteria biomass and dominance in the dry than in the wet season. Our regression model suggested that cyanobacteria biovolume was positively related to water column stability, pH, and total nitrogen and negatively related to water transparency and concentrations of inorganic suspended solids. These results suggest that the projected warmer and drier climate in the future will reduce water quantity and quality of man-made lakes in the region, increasing the risks of salinization, anoxia, eutrophication, and cyanobacteria blooms.


Eutrophication Climate change Limiting nutrient Nitrogen Reservoirs Drylands 



The authors thank the staff of the Secretaria Estadual do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Hídricos do Rio Grande do Norte (SEMARH), especially Celso Veiga, Gláucia Costa, Maria Pereira, Selma Silva, Antônio Paiva, Josenilton Silva, and Fernando Silva for their logistical assistance during the sampling work and for providing data from the lakes. We thank the staff of the Empresa de Pesquisa Agropecuária do Rio Grande do Norte (EMPARN) and the Companhia de Águas e Esgotos do Rio Grande do Norte for providing climatological and sewage treatment data, respectively. We are especially grateful to Fabiana Araújo and Jamila Pereira for laboratory assistance, and to Fábio Roland, Natália Noyma, Luciana Vidal, Anderson Freitas, Lúcia Lobão and Guilherme Dias for the nutrient and bacteria analyses. We thank Janet Reid for English correction. We also thank Mariana Meerhoff and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions that helped improve the quality of the manuscript. JB was partially supported by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq/CT-HIDRO, doctoral grant 141682/2007-8) and the Coordenadoria de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal Superior (CAPES/WUR, PhD sandwich scholarship grant BEX2977/09-5). VLMH was partially supported by CNPq (Grant 307727/2009-2).


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Jandeson Brasil
    • 1
    Email author
  • José L. Attayde
    • 2
  • Francisco R. Vasconcelos
    • 2
  • Danyhelton D. F. Dantas
    • 2
  • Vera L. M. Huszar
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Ficologia, Departamento de Botânica, Museu NacionalUniversidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro UFRJRio De JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Ecologia Aquática, Departamento de Botânica, Ecologia e Zoologia, Centro de BiociênciasUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte UFRNNatalBrazil

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