Phytoplankton and its dynamics in two tropical lakes: a tropical and temperate zone comparison

  • J. Kalff
  • Watson
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 33)


Temporal patterns of phytoplankton biomass and community structure are described for two Kenyan lakes and subsequently compared with patterns reported in other tropical and temperate lakes. Lake Naivasha had a lower and more seasonally variable (10x) biomass, with a seasonal shift between diatoms and blue-greens, while the L. Oloidien biomass was less variable (3.7x) and dominated by blue-greens. Biomass and chlorophyll a were strongly correlated and in turn were coupled to the level of total phosphorus. A total of 143 and 94 taxa were described for L. Naivasha and L. Oloidien, respectively.

The comparative analysis showed: a) a paucity of exclusively tropical species; b) that more than 30 percent of the species in two highly saline Kenyan lakes were also present in the two freshwater lakes; c) no evidence for a postulated decline of phytoplankton species abundance with latitude from the temperate zone to the tropics; d) that the low fraction of chrysophyte biomass in tropical lakes is a function of trophy rather than of latitude; e) that the fraction of chlorophyte biomass in tropical lakes is generally higher than in temperate lakes; f) that the proportion of nannoplankton in the two Kenyan freshwater lakes is not different from that in temperate lakes of the same trophy; g) that seasonal or annual biomass oscillations in the tropics are not systematically lower than in the temperate zone; h) evidence for large inter-year difference in the max.:min. biomass ratio in the only tropical lake (L. Naivasha) for which such data are available; i) that an average biomass ratio appears predictable for tropical lakes from the proportion of the sediment surface in contact with epilimnetic water. Overall, no evidence was found that the freshwater tropical phytoplankton composition or dynamics differ in any fundamental fashion from that observed in the temperate lakes during the summer.


phytoplankton species biomass nannoplankton seasonal cycles Kenyan lakes tropical-temperate comparison 


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Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers, Dordrecht 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Kalff
    • 1
  • Watson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biologythe University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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