Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 23–36 | Cite as

Development of a diatom-based model for inferring total phosphorus in southeastern Australian water storages

  • John Tibby


Diatom-based transfer functions for inferring epilimnetic total phosphorus (TP) have been developed from a data set of 33 southeastern Australian water storages. Regular institutional monitoring of these sites has allowed comparison of models developed from TP data covering different time periods. A model based on mean annual TP performs better than models derived from winter maximum TP, spring minimum TP or TP nearest the time of diatom sampling. A mean annual TP model (WA-PLS 2 component) has a jack-knifed diatom-inferred versus measured TP correlation coefficient (r2jack) of 0.69 and a root-mean-square-error of prediction (RMSEP) of 0.246 log10μg TP l−1, while alternative models have RMSEP > 0.27. Deletion of two samples with uncharacteristic species composition and environmental conditions improved performance of the mean annual TP model (r2jack= 0.74; RMSEP = 0.233 log10μg TP l−1). Comparison with other published diatom-TP calibration models indicates that this model performs relatively well, with possible contributing factors including the extensive characterisation of TP (with an average 15 determinations making up the annual mean) and the dominance of planktonic diatoms in most sites. Downcore application of the model will allow the reconstruction of reservoir nutrient histories since commissioning, and thus provide a basis for understanding and management of reservoirs.

Canonical correspondence analysis Diatom Palaeolimnology Reservoirs Total phosphorus Transfer function Variance partitioning 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agbeti M.D. 1992. Relationship between diatom assemblages and trophic variables: comparison of old and new approaches. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 49: 1171–1175.Google Scholar
  2. American Public Heath Association, American Water Works Associated and Water Environment Federation (APHA), 1992. Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. American Public Heath Association, Washington.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson N.J. 1997a.Historical changes in epilimnetic phosphorus concentrations in six rural lakes in Northern Ireland. Freshwat. Biol. 38: 427–440.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson N.J. 1997. Reconstructing historical phosphorus concentrations in rural lakes using diatom models. In: Tunney H., Carton O.C., Brookes P.C. and Johnston A.E. (eds), Phosphorus Loss From Soil to Water, CAB International, Wallingford, pp. 95–118.Google Scholar
  5. Anderson N.J. and Odgaard B.V. 1994. Recent palaeolimnology of three shallow Danish lakes. Hydrobiologia 275/276: 411–422.Google Scholar
  6. Anderson N.J. and Rippey B. 1994. Monitoring lake recovery from point-source eutrophication: the use of diatom-inferred epilimnetic total phosphorus and sediment chemistry. Freshwat. Biol. 32: 625–639.Google Scholar
  7. Anderson N.J., Rippey B. and Gibson C.E. 1993. A comparison of sedimentary and diatom-inferred phosphorus profiles: implications for defining pre-disturbance nutrient conditions. Hydrobiologia 253: 357–366.Google Scholar
  8. Battarbee R.W., Jones V.J., Flower R.J., Cameron N.G., Bennion H., Carvalho L. and Juggins S. 2001. Diatoms. In: Stoermer E.F., Birks H.J.B. and Last W.M. (eds), Tracking Environmental Change Using Lake Sediments, vol. 3, Terrestrial, Algal and Siliceous Indicators. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 155–202.Google Scholar
  9. Bennion H. 1993. A diatom-phosphorus transfer function for eutrophic ponds in southeast England. Unpublished PhD thesis, University College London, 433 pp.Google Scholar
  10. Bennion H. 1994. A diatom-phosphorus transfer function for shallow, eutrophic ponds in southeast England. Hydrobiologia 275/276: 391–410.Google Scholar
  11. Bennion H. 1995. Surface-sediment diatom assemblages in shallow, artificial, enriched ponds, and implications for reconstructing trophic status. Diatom Res. 10: 1–19.Google Scholar
  12. Bennion H., Wunsam S. and Schmidt R. 1995. The validation of a diatom-phosphorus transfer function: an example from Mondsee, Austria. Freshwat. Biol. 34: 271–283.Google Scholar
  13. Bennion H., Allott T.E.H., Monteith D.T., Duigan C.A., Haworth E.Y., Anderson N.J. and Juggins S. 1996a. The Anglesey lakes, Wales, UK: changes in trophic status of three standing waters as inferred from diatom transfer functions and their implications for conservation. Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshwat. Ecosyst. 6: 81–92.Google Scholar
  14. Bennion H., Juggins S. and Anderson N.J. 1996b. Predicting epilimnetic phosphorus concentrations using an improved diatom-based transfer function and its application to lake management. Environ. Sci. Technol. 30: 2004–2007.Google Scholar
  15. Bennion H., Appleby P.G. and Phillips G.L. 2001. Reconstructing nutrient histories in the Norfolk Broads, UK: implications for the role of diatom-total phosphorus transfer functions in shallow lakes management. J. Paleolim. 26: 181–204.Google Scholar
  16. Birks H.J.B. 1998. Numerical tools in palaeolimnology —Progress, potentialities, and problems. J. Paleolim. 20: 307–332.Google Scholar
  17. Borcard D., Legendre P. and Drapeau P. 1992. Partialling out the spatial component of ecological variation. Ecology 73: 1045–1055.Google Scholar
  18. Bormans M. and Webster I.T. 1999. Modelling the spatial and temporal variability of diatoms in the River Murray. J. Plankton Res. 21: 581–598.Google Scholar
  19. Bowling L. 1994. Occurrence and possible causes of a severe cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Cargelligo, New South Wales. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 45: 737–745.Google Scholar
  20. Bradshaw E.G. and Anderson N.J. 2001. Validation of a diatom-phosphorus calibration set for Sweden. Freshwat. Biol. 46: 1035–1048.Google Scholar
  21. Bradshaw E.G., Anderson N.J., Jensen J.P. and Jeppesen E. 2002. Phosphorus dynamics in Danish lakes and the implications for diatom ecology and palaeoecology. Freshwat. Biol. 47: 1963–1975.Google Scholar
  22. Cullen P. 1986. Managing nutrients in aquatic systems: the eutrophication problem. In: Williams W.D. and De Deckker P. (eds), Limnology in Australia, CSIRO, Melbourne, pp. 539–554.Google Scholar
  23. Cullen P. 1993. Toxic algal blooms and the rhetoric of sustainability. Wetlands (Aust.) 12: 16–22.Google Scholar
  24. Dixit S.S. and Smol J.P. 1994. Diatoms as indicators in the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program-Surface Waters (EMAP-SW). Environ. Monit. Assoc. 31: 275–276.Google Scholar
  25. Dixit S.S., Smol J.P., Charles D.F., Hughes R.M., Paulsen S.G. and Collins G.B. 1999. Assessing water quality changes in the lakes of the northeastern United States using sediment diatoms. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 56: 131–152.Google Scholar
  26. Ferris J.M. and Tyler P.A. 1985. Chlorophyll-total phosphorus relationships in Lake Burragorang, New South Wales, and some other southern hemisphere lakes. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 36: 157–168.Google Scholar
  27. Fritz S.C., Kingston J.C. and Engstrom D.R. 1993. Quantitative trophic reconstruction from sedimentary diatom assemblages: a cautionary tale. Freshwat. Biol. 30: 1–23.Google Scholar
  28. Gasse F., Juggins S. and BenKhelifa L. 1995. Diatom-based transfer functions for inferring past hydrochemical characteristics of African lakes. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclim. Palaeoecol. 117: 31–54.Google Scholar
  29. Gibson C.E., Foy R.H. and Bailey-Watts A.E. 1996. An Analysis of the Total Phosphorus Cycle in Some Temperate Lakes — the Response to Enrichment. Freshwat. Biol. 35: 525–532.Google Scholar
  30. Håkansson H., Olsson S., Jiang H. and Garbe-Schönberg C.D. 1998. The sediment diatom association and chemistry of surface sediments of Lake Belauer See, northern Germany. Diatom Res. 13: 63–91.Google Scholar
  31. Hall R.I. and Smol J.P. 1992. A weighted averaging regression and calibration model for inferring total phosphorous concentration from diatoms in British Columbia (Canada) lakes. Freshwat. Biol. 27: 417–434.Google Scholar
  32. Hall R.I. and Smol J.P. 1999. Diatoms as indicators of lake eutrophication. In: Stoermer E.F. and Smol J.P. (eds), The Diatoms: Applications for the Environmental and Earth Sciences. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 128–168.Google Scholar
  33. Hall R.I., Leavitt P.R., Dixit A.S., Quinlan R. and Smol J.P. 1999. Limnological succession in reservoirs: A paleolimnological comparison of two methods of reservoir formation. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 56: 1109–1121.Google Scholar
  34. Harris G.P. 2001. Biogeochemistry of nitrogen and phosphorus in Australian catchments, rivers and estuaries: effects of land use and flow regulation and comparisons with global patterns. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 52: 139–149.Google Scholar
  35. Harris G.P. and Baxter G. 1996. Interannual variability in phytoplankton biomass and species composition in North Pine Dam, Brisbane. Freshwat. Biol. 35: 545–560.Google Scholar
  36. Hill M.O. 1973. Diversity and evenness: a unifying notation and its consequences. Ecology 54: 427–432.Google Scholar
  37. Holland J. and Clark R.L. 1989. Diatoms of Burrinjuck Reservoir, New South Wales, Australia. CSIRO Division of Water Resources Divisional Report 89/1: 1–79.Google Scholar
  38. Hötzel G. and Croome R. 1996. Population dynamics of Aulacoseira granulata (Ehr.) Simonson (Bacillariophyceae, Centrales), the dominant alga in the Murray River, Australia. Arch. Hydrobiol. 136: 191–215.Google Scholar
  39. Jeffcoat K. 1996. Major rural dams in New South Wales. New South Wales Department of Land and Water Conservation, Parramatta, 59 pp.Google Scholar
  40. Jones V.J. and Juggins S. 1995. The construction of a diatom-based chlorophyll a transfer function and its application at three lakes on Signy Island (maritime Antarctic) subject to differing degrees of nutrient enrichment. Freshwat. Biol. 34: 433–445.Google Scholar
  41. Juggins S. and ter Braak C.J.F. 1997. CALIBRATE Version 0.8. Unpublished Computer Program, University of Newcastle.Google Scholar
  42. Kauppila T., Moisio T. and Salonen V.-P. 2002. A diatom-based inference model for autumn epilimnetic total phosphorus concentration and its application to a presently eutrophic boreal lake. J. Paleolim. 27: 261–273.Google Scholar
  43. Krammer K. and Lange-Bertalot H. 1986. Bacillariophyceae. 1: Teil: Naviculaceae. Gustav Fischer, Jena, 876 pp.Google Scholar
  44. Krammer K. and Lange-Bertalot H. 1988. Bacillariophyceae. 2: Teil: Bacillariaceae, Epthimiaceae, Surirellaceae. Gustav Fischer, Jena, 576 pp.Google Scholar
  45. Krammer K. and Lange-Bertalot H. 1991. Bacillariophyceae. 3: Centrales, Fragilariaceae, Eunotiaceae. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart, 576 pp.Google Scholar
  46. Krammer K. and Lange-Bertalot H. 1991. Bacillariophyceae. 4: Achnanthes, Kritische Ergänzunhen zu Navicula (Lineolatae) und Gomphonema Gesamtliteraturverzeichnis Teil 1-4. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart, 437 pp.Google Scholar
  47. Lange-Bertalot H. and Krammer K. 1989. Achnanthes eine Monographie der Gattung. Cramer, Berlin, 393 pp.Google Scholar
  48. Lawrence I., Bormans M., Oliver R., Ransom G., Sherman B., Ford P. and Wasson B. 2000. Physical factors controlling algal succession and biomass in Burrinjuck Reservoir. Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, Canberra, 133 pp.Google Scholar
  49. Lidston J. 1993. Victorian Water Quality Network Lakes Program. Pilot Study. State Water Laboratory, Armadale, Victoria, Australia.Google Scholar
  50. Lotter A.F., Birks H.J.B., Hofmann W. and Marchetto A. 1998. Modern diatom, cladocera, chironomid, and chrysophyte cyst assemblages as quantitative indicators for the reconstruction of past environmental conditions in the Alps. II. Nutrients. J. Paleolim. 19: 443–463.Google Scholar
  51. Matveev V. and Matveeva L. 1997. Grazer control and nutrient limitation of phytoplankton in two Australian reservoirs. Freshwat. Biol. 38: 49–65.Google Scholar
  52. McLennan W. 1996. Australians and the Environment. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 415 pp.Google Scholar
  53. Olley J.M. and Caitcheon G.G. 2000. The major element chemistry of sediments from the Darling-Barwon River and its tributaries: Implications for sediment and phosphorus sources. Hydrol. Proc. 14: 1159–1175.Google Scholar
  54. Philibert A. and Prairie Y.T. 2002. Is the introduction of benthic species necessary for open-water chemical reconstructions in diatom-based transfer functions? Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 59: 938–951.Google Scholar
  55. Reavie E.D. and Smol J.P. 2001. Diatom-environmental relationships in 64 alkaline southeastern Ontario (Canada) lakes: a diatom-based model for water quality reconstructions. J. Paleolim. 25: 25–42.Google Scholar
  56. Reavie E.D., Hall R.I. and Smol J.P. 1995. An expanded weighted-averaging model for inferring past total phosphorus concentrations from diatom assemblages in eutrophic British Columbia (Canada) lakes. J. Paleolim. 14: 49–62.Google Scholar
  57. Reed J.M. 1998. A diatom-conductivity transfer function for Spanish salt lakes. J. Paleolim. 19: 399–416.Google Scholar
  58. Sandercock C. 1996. Major storages operational monitoring program report, 1992-1995. Waterecoscience, Mt. Waverley, Victoria, Australia.Google Scholar
  59. Sayer C.D. 2001. Problems with the application of diatom-total phosphorus transfer functions: examples from a shallow English lake. Freshwat. Biol. 46: 743–757.Google Scholar
  60. Smol J.P. 2002. Pollution of Lakes and Rivers: a Paleoenvironmental Perspective. Arnold, London, 280 pp.Google Scholar
  61. ter Braak C.J.F. and Juggins S. 1993. Weighted averaging partial least squares regression (WA-PLS): an improved method for reconstructing environmental variables from species assemblages. Hydrobiologia 268/70: 485–502.Google Scholar
  62. ter Braak C.J.F. and Šmilauer P. 1998. CANOCO Reference Manual and User's Guide to Canoco for Windows. Software for Canonical Community Ordination (version 4). Centre for Biometry, Wageningen.Google Scholar
  63. Tibby J. 2000. The development of a diatom-based model for inferring total phosphorus and application to Burrinjuck Reservoir, southern New South Wales, Australia. Unpublished PhD thesis, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University.Google Scholar
  64. Tibby J. 2001. Diatoms as indicators of sedimentary processes in Burrinjuck reservoir, New South Wales, Australia. Quat. Int. 83-85: 245–256.Google Scholar
  65. Tibby J., Rerd M., Fluin J., Hart B.T. and Kershaw A.P. 2003. Assessing long-term pH change in an Australian river catchment using monitoring and palaeolimnological data. Environ. Sci. Technol. 37: 3250–3255.Google Scholar
  66. Watts C.J. 2000. The effect of organic matter on sedimentary phosphorus release in an Australian reservoir. Hydrobiologia 431: 13–25.Google Scholar
  67. Wright H.H. 1990. An improved Hongve sampler for surface sediments. J. Paleolim. 4: 91–92.Google Scholar
  68. Wunsam S. and Schmidt R. 1995. A diatom-phosphorus transfer function for Alpine and pre-alpine lakes. Mem. Ist. Ital. Idrobiol 53: 85–99.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Tibby
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Palynology and Palaeoecology, School of Geography and Environmental ScienceMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations