Mathematical modelling of primary production in Green Bay (Lake Michigan, USA), a phosphorus-and light-limited system

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Application of mathematical models in the design and evaluation of lake restoration programmes must include due consideration of three basic concepts of model development; 1) that the model framework is appropriately matched to the intended management use, 2) that selection of the proper degree of model complexity is fundamental to the achievement of model credibility and 3) that field and laboratory studies must be designed and interpreted with the aid of the model to insure development of a comprehensive, integrated tool. These concepts are demonstrated for the case of lake restoration efforts in Green Bay (Lake Michigan, USA). Striking gradients in water quality (transparency, algal standing crop, hypolimnetic oxygen depletion) and trophic state occur along the major axis of the bay in response to phosphorus loaded from the Fox River. A simple model for gross primary production is developed to permit calculation of the relative importance of internal carbon production to the total organic carbon budget of the bay. Primary production varies from high rates over a limited photic depth in the turbid, phosphorus-rich waters of the eutrophic portions of the bay to low rates over an extensive photic depth in the transparent, phosphoruspoor reaches of the oligotrophic regions. Internal production accounts for approximately 90% of the total organic carbon loaded to the system over the summer growing season. Water quality management strategies must address the stimulation of primary production by phosphorus loaded from the Fox River in any attempt to lower the standing crop of nuisance algae, improve water clarity, and reduce rates of hypolimnetic oxygen depletion in Green Bay.

Publisher's Statement

© 1986 Netherlands Hydrobiological Society. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Hydrobiological Bulletin