Controlling cyanobacterial blooms by managing nutrient ratio and limitation in a large hypereutrophic lake: Lake Taihu, China

Jianrong Ma , Boqiang Qin , Pan Wu , Jian Zhou , Cheng Niu , Jianming Deng , Hailin Niu


Received February 17, 2014,Revised April 30, 2014, Accepted , Available online January 19, 2015

Volume 27,2015,Pages 80-86

Excessive nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loading of aquatic ecosystems is a leading cause of eutrophication and harmful algal blooms worldwide, and reducing nutrient levels in water has been a primary management objective. To provide a rational protection strategy and predict future trends of eutrophication in eutrophic lakes, we need to understand the relationships between nutrient ratios and nutrient limitations. We conducted a set of outdoor bioassays at the shore of Lake Taihu. It showed that N only additions induced phytoplankton growth but adding only P did not. Combined N plus P additions promoted higher phytoplankton biomass than N only additions, which suggested that both N and P were deficient for maximum phytoplankton growth in this lake (TN:TP = 18.9). When nutrients are present at less than 7.75-13.95 mg/L TN and 0.41-0.74 mg/L TP, the deficiency of either N or P or both limits the growth of phytoplankton. N limitation then takes place when the TN:TP ratio is less than 21.5-24.7 (TDN:TDP was 34.2-44.3), and P limitation occurs above this. Therefore, according to this ratio, controlling N when N limitation exists and controlling P when P deficiency is present will prevent algal blooms effectively in the short term. But for the long term, a persistent dual nutrient (N and P) management strategy is necessary.

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